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Bagley

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About Bagley

  • Rank
    Nobility
  • Birthday 06/06/1944

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    Chrysorrhoas#5680
  • Minecraft Username
    Isagiyosa

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  • Character Name
    Yorihide

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  1. “The Cardinal Kovacs twice now advocates leniency and soft-handed approach in his condemnations of what should rightfully be considered anathema. First with the Aemeshites, whom I have no doubt himself engages with them in their dark cabal and all the sacrilege and occult practices they enact. And now he regards writings which can be viewed as nothing short of arch-heresy, as benign. Let us not forget that it was Saul who broke bread with the Denier and sowed his evil; so how, can these nonsensical writings that preach to his innocence be anything short of advocating for Iblees, of whom Saul was but a servant? I speak true when I say this much, brother. The Cardinal Kovacs is the Saul of our day, and certainly, his colors will be revealed God willing that sense and righteousness might befall the Pontificate in new clarity.” Parchment caught fire soon after as Seraphim fed it to the hearth, whereafter he took up his cup of Rhenyari tea. A glance was cast over the rim of the porcelain, concern evident in those muddied eyes of his as he regarded his Bishop and friend Griffith, momentarily, before partaking of a long sip to subdue the nerves. @JoanOfArc
  2. Seraphim smiles down from the Seven Skies (or was it his skete? His skete in the Seven Skies perhaps...) at his brother’s work, humbled yet utterly unworthy of such praise and recognition placed upon him by people of his homeland.
  3. Father Seraphim smiles but also frowns at Griffith from the Seven Skies. Or was it his skete? He couldn’t decide.
  4. Bagley

    [CULTURE] OYASHIMA

    For anyone interested in participating in the culture through the group we’ve set up, feel free to get in contact with me through my discord or over forum PMs for an invite to our server.
  5. BETRAYAL AT ARASHI CASTLE 音楽 Thunder. Thundering boots. Thundering Words. Lightning cracked across the sky, splitting the clouds and the heavens before it; the iridescent flash banishing the black of night before fading back into darkness. Arashi Castle stood tall amidst the storm, overlooking the sprawling metropolis that was Yamatai from its hilltop vantage. The screen of a window was torn asunder, and Yorihide came to sit upon the cusp, staring out across the city as the torrential downpour of the monsoon season crashed against the land with all its fury. He found serenity amongst the chaos. It was what he had been taught from a young age, though he made the notion truly his own; the boy felt ill-at-ease when silence reigned, and so the steady pitter-patter of rain striking the sloped tiles came alike as a balm to what discontent found a home in the young Ishikawa’s heart. And to that end, he wrote. lightning sundered sky the moon yearning to be free— clouds herald darkness “Lord Ishikawa!” A voice cried out from the other side of the shoji that partitioned his room from the corridor. It stirred him from the lull of his contemplative state. Slowly did the young samurai rise to his feet, mulberry paper and inkbrush discarded to attend the commotion. And when the screen was slid ajar, two figures rushed in - one clamping their hand over his mouth, while the other took a defensive posture aside the entryway, hand poised to the hilt of his wakizashi. He had thought to scream - cry out; that assassins had come for him. Why would they? He was of no relevance, all bar his name. The second son of a second son, a bunke lord. But then he realized that he was in the company of friends. An indication to hush was voiced from behind the unsightly menpo donned by his assailant - Ishikawa Toru. And the samurai at his side, none other than Fujiwara Mutsuhiko. “Young master.” Mutsuhiko had begun, though whatever he had intended to say was cut short by the rattle of armor from further down the corridor. Toru quickly ushered Yorihide into the hallway, offering him no opportunity to protest while the samurai took the rear, facing down a pair of ashigaru who approached, blood staining the already-crimson of their Ishikawa livery and the uchigatana they toted. “Teme, shinu!” One of them cried, bearing down the hallway with their weapon raised. The prodigy of the Fujiwara stood with every bit poise and discipline, fingers tightening their vice around the handle of his shōtō, and when the levy’s charge finally brought him within striking range of the hardened yōsei, he struck. Sliding forward on his sandals, his blade was brandished within two shakes of a lamb's tail, and the corpse of yet another fool slumped onto the floor in a heap before him. The display was enough to break the resolve of the other soldier, already turning a corner by the time the dust had settled, Mutsuhiko raking the edge of his sword against his kote to clear the blood before returning it to the saya with fluid, practiced grace. “What’s going on? Why are my grandfather’s men after you both?!” Yorihide’s demand for answers fell upon deaf ears as he was dragged through the hallways by the silent determination of Toru. They had descended a floor before he finally spoke up, hushed words offered towards the lordling. “Those men are after you, Lord. Your grand-uncle has taken up arms against the Shogun. Arashi is no longer safe.” The gravity of the situation had finally begun to sink in with that. The clouds herald darkness… his haiku brought with it ill-auspices. It was so bizarre. Why, of all people, was Toru present to spirit him away? The last he had heard of his kinsman was that the Sōhei was in the south, investigating disturbances in Yamatai around the time of the eclipse. Though there was no time to linger upon thoughts. “Is my father safe?” He croaked, scarcely more than a whisper as they continued through the winding hallways of the Ishikawa Clan’s seat of rule with measured caution. His kin betrayed little in the way of emotion, and was just as insubstantial in providing an answer. Mutsuhiko had come to directly tail the lordling, a palm flattened against the boy’s shoulder as they descended yet another flight of stairs. Yorihide would not require an answer from either of them. What awaited them in the room beyond was confirmation enough. As the shoji was wrenched aside, a pungent, metallic scent wafted through the air - it was enough to turn the stomach, though nothing could prepare Yorihide for what he saw. Corpses were strewn across the common area; strangers and familiar faces both, dozens of Ishikawa retainers, the mangled bodies of samurai dismembered and eviscerated. The walls as much as the floor were all but painted in a scarlet sheen, and in the midst of them all? Family. He broke free of Toru’s grip, rushing towards the center of the room. His father was propped up - a set stage like it was some kind of ritual murder, decapitated. The man’s head was cradled within his lap, dinner plates for eyes and a gaping jaw set into the throes of rigor-mortis. His own sword was driven so deep into his chest the hilt pressed flush against his ribcage and the blade exited through his back to hold him upright, the tip poised to the floor. Yorihide collapsed onto his hands and knees before his father, the silk of his hakama mingling with the blood while he prostrated himself in mourning. Why did it have to be him, he thought. Could he not have taken his place? His thoughts raced, and sorrow gripped his pounding heart, tears spilling down his cheeks in a steady stream that was not abated even by the approach of Toru trying to stir him to his feet. “We cannot linger, Lord. He has made to serve the Yōkai. They are no doubt the cause of… this.” Disgust wore upon the Sōhei’s words. Or perhaps it was shame. No matter, Toru gripped Yorihide by the scruff of his neck and wrenched him to an abrupt stand. “We must go.” Mutsuhiko finally spoke up, mirroring the monk’s sentiments despite Yorihide’s distress. “I-... I failed him.” The young Ishikawa mumbled, heels keeping him planted firmly in place as he stood in his vigil over the corpse of his fallen sire. Sniffling, the flowing sleeve of his kimono was brought aloft to wipe snot and tears both away from his face. Yorihide kept it there, though. He sought to shield his disgrace from the two men. The realization had finally dawned on him. If they had come to his rescue, then, no doubt, it was because there were no others to save. He was their hope. And yet, his father laid before him, slain. He could not protect him, so how could he protect them? His head shook side to side and he withdrew the sleeve with a final sob, staring down at the remains of his father before endeavoring forwards to wrap his hands around the handle of the sword embedded into his chest. He heaved. And he heaved. And he heaved. Pouring every bit of his strength and his soul into dislodging the blade. Gradually, it slid free, though through no small amount of effort, stained with the blood of its deceased owner. Trembling hands passed the weapon on to Mutsuhiko, who gave a knowing nod in return before they struck out, pressing onwards into the central courtyard. There was no small amount of bloodshed marking their path now; the same carnage they had witnessed inside, though blessed were they to not need to contend with the instigators of such a massacre. Infact, all they were greeted with was silence, aside from the downpour of rain which remained a constant throughout. Atleast, until they reached the gates. Beneath the shadow of great Arashi, a samurai fought. Cornered and surrounded; a wounded animal snapping back with all the fire and fury contained within its soul. A trio of yari spearmen surrounded the man, who even in the darkness shone in both his virtue and in the effervescent fervor through which he defied them. “Will you not strike at me with honor?! You know nothing of the nine virtues; cowards and dogs, all of you!” And surely his words rang true, they all hesitated, keeping distance despite clear advantage, and altogether oblivious to the arrival of newcomers from deeper within the castle whose approach was masked by the torrential downpour. As the standoff continued in earnest, Toru took advantage of the shadows, creeping up upon the group with his tantō in hand. It was only in the last seconds that one of the spearmen turned; lightning streaked across the heavens to illuminate the demon-masked killer for a fraction of a second, and in that moment, the blade ripped through the soldier’s jugular no quicker than he could scream. The samurai hitherto engaged in the showdown lunged forwards with a swipe of his blade carving through one of the ill-equipped levy, capitalizing upon the distraction to dispatch his assailants. The third stumbled backwards, crying out as his comrades were rendered newly-minted corpses to add to the slaughter, throwing his yari spear onto the blood-stained stones. “Please, please, my lords! I’m sorry! I did not mean to! I’ve always served Ishikawa!” He threw himself onto his hands and knees, pressing his brow to the ground while he begged. “Sumimasen! Sumimasen! I’m afraid, my lords, please!” “This bastard is not worth our time.” The stranger spoke up, though as Yorihide approached at the side of Mutsuhiko, the man was recognized as Kawahara Nobusuke, one of his grandfather’s many hatamoto retainers. Grunted affirmations of agreements left the sōhei and samurai. Joining the party, they left the ashigaru to whatever consequence awaited his cowardice. Crossing the precipice that separated Arashi Castle from the city of Yamatai stirred feelings within Yorihide’s chest. There was no going back. He knew that. To cross that line would be to change his life irrevocably forevermore, though what other choice did he have but to place his trust in his retainers? None. And so they endeavored into the winding streets of the capital, and for the docks that awaited them. When they had finally arrived, the rain had come to its end, and the first streams of morning sun sought to dissect the clouds and shine over Oyashima. He did not want to go. He did not want to leave his home behind. He was not even granted the courtesy to honor his father, to bury him and send him on to the spirits. But he knew, atleast, as he boarded that ship, that he was with friends. Toru, Mutsuhiko, Nobusuke. The Lord Hiroji who greeted him with a smile as they came onto the deck of the ship. And above all; his teacher and mentor, who had orchestrated it all - Fujiwara Musashi. A new journey had begun, and though its roots were watered with sorrow, he had to persevere. Not for himself, but for them. They all looked to him now, and he knew, above all, he could not fail them. As night fell and the waves carried them westward, towards Tomoe, he looked to the heavens for guidance, and with brush in hand, he wrote. stars shine like heaven— so muddied is the future how can their light guide
  6. Bagley

    Harmony

    Each stroke of the brush struck against the mulberry paper. Each stroke was measured. Each to its own meaning. Ishikawa Yorihide sat amidst the zen garden belonging to his relative and retainer, Tomoe. His Sensei, Fujiwara Musashi, had for many years instructed him. Not only in the art of the sword, but of the ink brush. What it meant to be Samurai. To be a samurai, he thought, was to embody the ferocity of a warrior and the kind temperament of a scholar both. It was this that gave rise to the poet-warrior, and it was this that he had been lectured upon so many times. But he was far from home now. Far from what was familiar. From the blossom trees. From the warm kiss of the Oyashiman sun. Though above all, from his father... the boy’s hand trembled in that final stroke, tears choked back as he rose. Had the mind been at ease, he might have found contentment in his work. Yet it was not to be, and so he withdrew to his chambers. To contemplate. And to weep. where has the sun gone— winter rests upon the wind such heavy burden
  7. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ THE CULTURE OF OYASHIMA 音楽 ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ INTRODUCTION Oyashima is a land of mystery and wonder to the average foreigner, in the far off sea where the sun rises and ancient and strange customs reign supreme. Oyashima, also known as the Land of Storms, is located on the northern coast of the eastern peninsula on the Aeldinic mainland, also known as Ai-Zho. The Empire of Oyashima, as it is formally known, is in practice ruled by the Imperial Clan, whose rulers are known as Tenshi, or Sons of Heaven and claim divine mandate through their Kami bloodline as descendents of a divine spirit. This, however, is not the case and while Oyashima is nominally ruled by its Emperor, the true power lies in the hands of the Ishikawa Bakufu, a military government also known as the Shōgunate. The Shōgun is the absolute dictator of Oyashima and is owed the loyalty of the various clans and samurai families who exist as a military aristocracy founded on the principles of honor, duty and loyalty. The people of this land are a dichotomy of peace and war, looking to their inner selves to achieve enlightenment through their gods and the native spirits of the land, the Kami, while also being in a state of perpetual war with their eternal enemy and neighbour to the southeast, the Li Dynasty of Cathant. Even in recent years, the stress of war has not been let up by the proud bushi of Oyashima, who have been recently forced to deal with the encroaching threat of a great darkness and the tyranny of usurpers. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ HISTORY Oyashima is an ancient land. One steeped in myth and folklore. Whose legacy is one of honor and blood. It is difficult to discern legend from history, for most of what is considered to be history by the inhabitants of Oyashima is, infact, legend. Oyashiman history is divided into Regnal Eras which coincide to the reigns of specific, or multiple emperors (or interregnum periods). ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ TENJŌ The Tenjō Era was the auspicious founding of Oyashima, attributed to the first Emperor. It is asserted by the clans that the first Tenshi, or Son of Heaven, was Emperor Tenjō, a great warrior who is said to have been descended from the Kami god Susanoo, the Lord of the Tempest. Tenjō led the forebears of the Oyashiman people into the river valleys of the eastern peninsula where they subjugated or drove out the local populations, claiming what would come to be the ancestral homeland of the Oyashimans and founding the Imperial Capital at Yamatai. It was through the absolute and infallible rule of the divine ruler of Oyashima that the land prospered and became rich in rice and precious metals. The mandate of the Imperial Clan brought with it peace and unity, and they were certainly believed to be blessed by the Kami and ordained to their rule. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ ZENCHŌ Emperor Tenjō ruled over his people for three centuries. Upon his passing, the Imperial throne passed onto the great-grandson of Emperor Tenjō’s eldest, having outlived two generations of his own progeny. The Zenchō Era was marked by a continuation of the prosperity begun by the first Tenshi, the development of an urban culture centered around the palace in Yamatai, and the gradual establishment of a permanent aristocracy within the Imperial Court through the branch families - which would separate from the Imperial Clan to become great houses within their own right. Many of the ancient clans in Oyashima can trace their lineage back to the many sons of Emperor Tenjō as a result of this. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ RENTAI The Rentai Era marked the reign of Emperor Rentai and the prolonged interregnum which followed his death. It brought with it the advent of the Second Era, and with it, tragedy. For the first time since its founding, Oyashima was subject to the presence of foreign invaders. The arrival of the Hou-zi onto the eastern peninsula echoed the beginning of a severe and altogether drastic shift within Oyashiman society. Emperor Rentai and his people refused to acknowledge the suzerainty of a beast race over its divinely mandated rule, and the notion that their God-King was ordained to his throne in a way not dissimilar to the Tenshi’s own celestial heritage (and superior, for that matter) was a trespass against the lineage of Susanoo that could not be allowed to stand. Emperor Rentai marshalled the forces of Oyashima, which amounted to little more than a glorified peasant’s levy of rice farmers commanded by inexperienced and incapable commanders, and led them to battle against the Hou-zi in what became remembered as the Izugata Massacre. The Emperor and the vast majority of his retainers were slaughtered like dogs on the battlefield and the capture or desertion of the remainder of the Oyashiman army allowed for the invaders to sweep across the country and seize the capital. Forced to prostrate themselves before the so-called Empire of the Golden Sun, they fell into line with the other fledgling kingdoms of the east. The conquest of the mountain valleys and woodlands of Oyashima would not be an easy thing, however, and the fierce conflict that raged across the land in defiance of the beast race would give rise to a warlike spirit and serve as the foundations for the warrior class of samurai that would come to dominate Oyashima in the modern era. Throughout the occupation, the infant ‘bushi’ caste of warrior became renowned throughout the lands for their ferocity, discipline and skill in the saddle and bow, roving in every part of the Oyashima countryside in packs of mounted archers savaging caravans and military expeditions mounted by the Hou-zi as reprisal against the locals. This continued in a nigh-constant cycle of conflict up until the close of the Second Era with the rise of the Li Dynasty and the widespread rebellions across the peninsula. The restoration of the sovereignty of the Imperial Clan was met with a resurgence of Oyashima, however the mark left by the Rentai Era would have a lasting impact on her society and people. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ HEISEI The meteoric rise of the Li Dynasty to preeminence over the peninsula spelled a period of rapid militarization within Oyashima that continued to build upon the fervor leftover from the Rentai Era. With the restoration of the Imperial Clan via Emperor Heisei, the bushi now asserted themselves over the land and demanded a respect and influence that permeated even the Emperor’s court. The early years of this era gave way to the rise of four distinctly influential and powerful samurai clans - Ishikawa, Sato, Tadayoshi and Inoue. The most influential of the Daimyō whose status as major landholders in the wake of the former occupation, and commanding the loyalty of many bushi retainers and lesser clans made them in essence immune to the scrutiny of the Imperial Court and precipitated the decline of the Emperor’s authority over the affairs of his subjects. During the reign of Emperor Heisei, Yamatai was rebuilt from the ground up, laying the groundwork for the great and sprawling port city it is today, as well as erecting the Kogane Palace which was built upon the city’s outskirts to replace the dilapidated Arashi Castle of the Zenchō Emperor which had begun to decay. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ TENBATSU A long and troubling reign, the era of the Tenbatsu Emperor was one marked by civil strife, for despite the great civil projects endeavored by his predecessor, the power of the clans was left unchecked and rivalry between them had reached a boiling point. The Battle at Arihawa Bridge was the formal beginning of hostilities between the preeminent Ishikawa Clan and their rivals, the thrifty Sato. While on paper the feuding clans all constituted a single nation in subservience to the Emperor, it was much the contrary when put to practice and the court was helpless but to watch the country drag itself into war with itself. The Kawato War was a long and bloody affair that constituted the majority of the Tenbatsu Era. Clan Sato endeavored to extend their dominion beyond the confines of the Ihon river in the east and take command of the court in Yamatai, while the Ishikawa championed a much similar purpose - to hone themselves on the battlefield and do honor by the sword, owing to the rapidly growing philosophy of budō that saw the shift from the bushi warrior into the unflinching and virtuous samurai. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ TENGŌI The reign of Emperor Tengōi saw a continuation of a generation-long conflict between the four noble clans. The Kawato War raged on with the Ishikawa and Sato trading victories and losses until the Sato marched against the Inoue. Together with their ally, they drove back the Sato forces and slew the Sato Daimyō, Sato Kagetoki, at the famous Battle of Ihon River. The Sato were dealt a crushing blow and the consequent destruction of the balance of power within Oyashima following the siege of Sato Castle led to the ascendance of the Ishikawa over their rival. This enabled the Ishikawa to seize power from the central government without a fight, relegating the Imperial Court to a station of de jure rule that coincided with the appointment of Ishikawa Nobumune to the station of Taishōgun, which roughly translates to Great General, or Commander-in-Chief. This came as a response to the posturing of the Li Dynasty against Oyashima and the necessity for a stronger military to resist in the event of war with Cathant. Thus, the Ishikawa Bakufu was born. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ ZANTEI The Zantei Era saw a lull in conflict as the Bakufu Government of the Ishikawa Clan began to further assert itself over the Imperial Court. Emperor Zantei saw himself relegated to a ceremonial and religious authority while Ishikawa Nobumune continued to strengthen his own position as Shōgun up until his death. His successor, Ishikawa Fujinami took this to a further extreme and effectively propped up a feudal system over Oyashima, securing the hereditary rule of the Shōguns and asserting the influence of the Shugo - Military Governors (who would later come to be known as daimyō) and their samurai retainers over every facet of society within the nation. A number of reprisals against the Sato occurred during the following decade with the clan having much of its holdings repossessed and distributed among various Shugo and their underlying Jitō loyal to the Bakufu. Through this, the military caste of samurai came to dominate the country with feudal landholders in subservience to the Shōgun becoming a normalized and integral part of Oyashiman social hierarchy and politics. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ RAIZO With the ascendance of the Emperor Raizo, a shadow loomed upon the horizon that threatened to smother out the notion of an independent Oyashima. The abrupt death of Ishikawa Fujinami was all the Li Dynasty needed to move forward with their plans of conquest. The opening motions of the war were decided on the heavily wooded foothills of Kamaichi that marked the easternmost crossing of the forested hinterlands on the Cathant border. Sato Hitoshi commanded the southern army and met the invaders, only to be crushed decisively and routed from the field. This humiliation was the catalyst for a Sato surrender and Cathant banners flew over Sato Castle at Ihon within the month. Panic struck the capital and the new Shōgun, Ishikawa Todou, began mustering his retainers to fight back and stop the invading army in its tracks. Marshalling thirty-seven clans to his cause, the Shōgun crossed the Yamatai river in the winter of 1445 to put an end to the siege of Hokeida which had lasted for the better half of a year. The Shōgun’s army of samurai met the Li forces on the Shinzo Plains. The Battle of Shinzo Plains was a bloody affair. The Oyashiman forces, duty bound to their code of honor, were not prepared to face an opponent who had no such scruples. Many samurai issued demands of single combat in the heat of battle only to be made a cushion for arrows or cut down by multiple assailants. All accounts of the battle by the Cathant invaders comment on the ferocity of Oyashiman warriors, with some going so far as to call them demons wearing flesh whose lack of fear and disregard for safety within the face of certain death led them to inflict disproportionate casualties on their opponents. In the end, Shinzo was blanketed with the dead of both natives and invaders alike and the fate of the nation was sealed with Ishikawa Todou’s demise on the battlefield. The death of the Shōgun opened a power vacuum that was utilized to propel the invaders into dominance over the whole of the country. The surrender of Yamatai rendered the Tenshi and the Imperial Court hostages within their own palace while a eunuch governor was appointed to oversee the occupation of the province from Arashi Castle, which was repaired by the invaders to serve as their seat of governance. Many of the Clans, however, would not go down without a fight. The rights and privileges of the samurai were suppressed following the initial occupation by Cathant given their station as an obvious threat to the establishment, and while some who did not offer resistance to the occupation were given elevated status as collaborators, the warrior aristocracy of Oyashima was largely deprived of their dignity and birthright which drove many into an open insurgency against the Li invaders while others, deprived of income and their service to feudal masters, began to roam the countryside as Ronin; mercenaries and bandits praying on both the invaders and their own countrymen. Oyashima suffered under eight decades of occupation. The peasantry were broken and resistance was far and few between after the initial clan uprisings that took hold in the southern mountains around Hokeida. Samurai still waged an unconventional war against the Cathant Occupation, though they too were diminished in strength and suffered greatly at the hands of military reprisals which saw scorched earth employed against the rebels, putting villages and farmsteads to the torch and engaging in the mass killings of locals suspected to be sympathetic to their former samurai masters. In a series of events that is surmised to have been the direct cause of the rampant and never-before-seen bloodshed - namely around the areas closest to the Battle of Shinzo Plains and the Yamamoto Massacres, the thick woodland which dominated the south of Oyashima, strange occurrences began to become commonplace. The emergence of creatures that had hitherto been consigned to the myth and folklore of Oyashima. Demons stalked the forests and only added to the element of danger and the suffering of Oyashima’s people as more and more often peasants started to go missing, merchants ended up eviscerated on the roads and the old forests became forbidden by the Occupation Government. Hope was a dwindling luxury within the province, that is, until the return of the grandson of the last Ishikawa Shōgun, Ishikawa Kais, who would later come to be known affectionately as Ōji-sama; the Prince. The Ishikawa Lord was swift to action, courting the Ikedo, Kanamura, Hiroji, Fujiwara and Saganaka clans who had been the chief proponents of a lasting insurgency in the further western prefectures of Oyashima on the border with Huinan. Rallying a number of masterless samurai to his banner alongside these three clans, they served as the bulk of his force during the early reclamation campaign. Sending this newly formed army to ravage the Cathant supply lines into Oyashima, the Prince set out for Hokeida with his closest retainer, the Farfolk seijū (westerner) Amuel Sano, seeking to implore the good graces of the Inoue Clan, who had long been an ally and loyal subject to the Ishikawa and having retained their domain underneath the occupation. Infiltrating Hokeida Castle, he confronted the daimyō, Inoue Yoshihiro, revealing himself and his intentions on the bid that ancient friendship would compel him to the Ishikawa cause. While the daimyō, appalled and disgraced with himself over his collaboration with the Li Dynasty suggested to take his own life through the ritual suicide of seppuku, Kais pleaded with him and convinced him to do honor by his clan and by his people through freeing their homeland from the invaders.With Hokeida flying Ishikawa banners, the ashigaru of the province were raised and joined with the samurai previously mustered by Ishikawa Kais to constitute a formidable host. Marching south to meet a newly mustered army that had gathered at Luzhou and was moving north to quash the Ishikawa rebellion, Kais chose the forests of Yamamoto as his battlefield. At the head of the Imperial forces was Li Zhao, Marquis of Luzhou and nephew to the Li Emperor, accompanied by the famed albeit venerable daimyō Shimazu Satomi, who himself was a veteran of the Battle of Shinzo Plains and had been acquired into Imperial service during the early years of the occupation. The patchwork of Li forces, constituted by Li and Xian levies alongside the native forces of the Shimazu met Kais’ army at Yamamoto. The battle was among the bloodiest in Oyashiman history, with the famed nodachi samurai of Clan Ishikawa cutting hundreds to ribbons in the densely packed woods while the Shimazu forces turned coats and sowed chaos through the Li battle lines. The Cathant army was routed and in the aftermath it is said that hundreds of fleeing soldiers were lost in the woods where Yōkai dwelt, never to be seen again - what truth there is to such allegations, only one eighth of the Li forces returned to Cathant and the Marquis of Luzhou was slain and his head was presented to Ishikawa Kais. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ SHŌRI With the decisive victory at Yamamoto, Cathant was left to lick its wounds, dealing with internal struggles elsewhere across its empire. Turning north, Kais’ forces laid siege to Yamatai and for two grueling years assailed the Li garrison until they finally capitulated and allowed the Ishikawa reign of the city. With the fall of Yamatai back into Ishikawa hands, the Empire was subsequently restored under the rule of Emperor Shōri and thus the tragedy of the Raizo Era finally came to a close. Ishikawa Kais was soon after confirmed as Shōgun and began immediate reforms in the structure of Oyashima - namely in the establishment of a conscription to replace the ineffectual levy system utilized prior and entrusted the Shugo daimyō to maintain and upkeep a force of peasant ashigaru to ward against any future reprisal by the Li Dynasty. Ishikawa Kais would rule as Shōgun for another six decades after Oyashima was restored, being endowed with an unnaturally long lifespan that stirred rumors that sought to correlate this fact to the ever increasing presence of demons, who no longer remained confined to the battlegrounds of Old Yamamoto and the Luzhou border but strayed deeper and deeper into the Oyashiman countryside with each passing year. This in turn necessitated the foundations of the School of the Crane; an order of Sōhei monk soldiers who blended the principles of the Marked Men with the religious and philosophical principles of Oyashima and the way of the warrior who would remain relevant through their roving bands of demon hunters, tracking monsters across the Oyashiman countryside and protecting rural farmers from the new darkness that gradually began to plague the country more and more. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ DAIKAGE The Daikage Era began with the reign of Emperor Daikage, however it is unusual in the fact that it has continued with the dysfunction of the era system having fallen out of favor with the last four emperors and continues into the modern day. A resurgence in conflict led to Shōgun Ishikawa Genjiro launching a punitive expedition into Cathant - whose power and majesty is a shadow of the days once it dominated all of the eastern peninsula. The Yamamoto War thus continues into the current day, spanning multiple generations and leaving the borderlands as an uninhabited wasteland plagued by the supernatural with countless dead adding to mass graves as skirmishes continue as a near constant. Recently, however, the conflict has lulled with the resurgence of Yōkai across the nation coinciding with the Great Eclipse and a recent palace coup at Arashi Castle. The hitherto incumbent Shōgun, Ishikawa Yorimasa, was overthrown in a violent struggle by his brother, Ishikawa Yorinobu, who assumed the mantle of Shōgun as a usurper and now rules with a callous and bloody hand - suppressing all discontent through secret police and impeding upon the rights of the daimyō and samurai alike. Many believe the usurper to be a Yōkai wearing the skin of the man, while others suspect that the Shōgun has made pacts with the demons and is stalked by shadows wherever he goes. No matter where the truth lies, his rule has led to a recent wave of immigration from Oyashima with many fleeing for refugees in foreign lands in the hope that the terror will pass and they might return to normalcy in the coming years. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ APPEARANCE The people of Oyashima are a relatively homogeneous group of Farfolk who resemble the various other eastern ethnic groups found across Ai-Zho. That is not to say that their people are strictly human, with elves and dwarves being long-established minorities within Oyashima and either through intermixing or otherwise unknown adaptation, both varieties of Oyashiman resemble their Farfolk countrymen in appearance. Oyashimans are almost entirely black-haired and have brown or hazel eyes, though green is not entirely uncommon, especially among those of mixed descent. Their skin is generally a sallow tone bordering between a light brown or yellow and they average on the shorter side. The aristocracy, especially women, tend to powder their faces to appear more white as per custom of the reformer Shōgun, Yorimasa, who embraced aspects from the Imperial Court. A true highlight of Oyashiman culture is that of the kimono. Almost universally seen as the symbol of the Shōgunate and one their largest exports out of Ai-Zho, the kimono is a staple for all higher class members of the Shōgunate’s society. The majority of lower and middle class men wear simple kimonos and those of the upper classes wear expensive goshodoki kimonos for royal events. Women, however, are the largest consumers of the kimono, buying an array of silk extravagant decorative floral and animalistic designs, depicting various scenes within poems and famous epics. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ LANGUAGE Oyashiman is the language of the people of Oyashima. It is a native tongue that, unlike the languages spoken today by their neighbors in Li Cathant, was not assimilated to the Hou-zi and remains to this day as its own separate dialect, albeit while utilizing the Li script alongside their own innovations. It is largely indecipherable and not mutually intelligible with other eastern languages, though it takes a number of loan words from Li-Wen though these have generally been bastardized to better fit with the phonetic syntax of Oyashiman. Naming within Oyashima society is confusing to an outsider, with the family or clan name coming before the given name. However, it is not structured in the same way that western names are, and reflect moreso a person's social status and affiliations. Names are fluid in Oyashima, with individuals changing their names on numerous occasions. A name could be eschewed in favor of another to demonstrate shifting allegiance, an increase in rank, or for truthfully any manner of reason. Samurai men and other aristocracy change their names upon their coming-of-age, or genpuku, departing from their childhood name and taking on one to signify their rebirth as adults. Women change their names less frequently, however entering into service is typically an occasion in which this occurs. Additionally, a deceased person would be given an additional name, and their personal name would no longer be used as opposed to this posthumous one, which is also significant in the fact that the posthumous names of the Emperors are used to designate the eras of Oyashiman history. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ SOCIETY CLASS HIERARCHY Society within Oyashima is dictated by a rigid and inflexible system of castes; societal divisions that can be separated into two halves. The aristocracy, and the shinōkōshō, or the four classes. The aristocracy are defined by the Emperor and his family who sit at the top of the social hierarchy. Under the Imperial Clan are the Kuge, or the noble clans that constitute the Imperial Court. Though, under the Bakufu Government, the Emperor and his court hold no real political authority apart from their own prestige and cultural influence. Below the court is the Shōgun, the military dictator of Oyashima who serves through nominal appointment by the Emperor, though in truth only pays lip service and holds de facto control over the nation through feudal patronage and military authority, heading the Bakufu. The seat of Shōgun is occupied by the Ishikawa Clan, who has maintained control of both periods of the Shōgunate before and after the Cathant Occupation. Directly below the Shōgun are his Daimyō; feudal lords of the Samurai class who hold vast sway over Oyashima through their direct administration of their land domains as vassals of the Shōgun. The distinction between Samurai and Daimyō is made by the worth of his domain, measured in rice with the minimum income to quantify a Daimyō being fifty-thousand bushels annually. In accordance to the Ishikawa Government following the restoration, there are additional internal divisions among the Daimyō; these between the Shinpan Daimyō, the Fudai Daimyō and the Tozama Daimyō - the familial Daimyō related to the ruling Ishikawa Clan, the allied Daimyō who joined the Ishikawa against Cathant before the Battle of Yamamoto, and the outside Daimyō who only joined the Ishikawa after the battle, existing as a punitive discriminatory practice against clans deemed disloyal or of dubious character as a result of their cooperation with the Li occupation. Below the aristocracy are the shinōkōshō; the four classes. The shi constitutes the military nobility and warrior class that dominate Oyashima; the Bushi, or Samurai, as they are more commonly known. Bound by the principles of duty, honor and loyalty, the Samurai form the backbone of the military structure of Oyashima and serve in a variety of functions; namely as stewards, landholders and retainers beneath the ruling Daimyō while also being allowed to wear the daishō, or two swords, as a privilege and symbol of office. Additionally, there is the distinction of a Hatamoto, or Bannermen, who are the Samurai retainers of the main branch of the Ishikawa Clan and serve the Shōgun directly, owing to a greater privilege and the right to hold and maintain a domain directly apart from that of the Daimyō, granting them an upward mobility into the ruling classes. Onna-bugeisha are also considered to be Shi, and the warrior women of the Samurai class are honored greatly for their courage. Below the shi are the nō; the peasant farmers, or heimin, are held in a greater esteem than the artisans or merchants of Oyashima for the sole reason that their toils ensure the survival of the nation. The peasantry are generally not permitted to depart from their own lands or the domain of their Daimyō overlord, and while they owned and tended their own lands, rice is owed to the Daimyō as tax. Beneath them are the kō and shō; or the artisans and the merchants, the former being considered of higher standing but lesser to the peasantry due to their production of non-essential goods while merchants are seen as lesser because of their non-production and in effect, non-use in the good of things as swindlers. This, however, does not often apply in practice and many merchant clans hold great wealth and sway across the country. Beneath the four classes and outside of the social hierarchy entirely are the eta; the defiled, or filth - people whose professions are considered kegare, or defilement, in the spiritual light of local beliefs. These are generally professions which deal directly with death, which is considered taboo, and therefore butchers, executioners, undertakers and tanners are considered to be eta and are forced to live separately in etamura, defiled or filthy villages, where their kegare will not taint those who are pure and free from such taboo. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ GENDER ROLES The Oyashiman Shōgunate at a fundamental level is patriarchal and strict. Males are seen as almost exclusively the bread-winners of the family unit and are expected to fulfill most physical roles in the nation. Females, on the other hand, are seen as loving and caring beings, yet too fragile and noble to do physical activities with the exception of martial arts as recreation. As such, women are almost entirely forced into managing the affairs of the household and raising children, though some of the lower class have taken up the roles as performers, geisha, in an effort to provide for their family alongside their husbands. While this is the general norm for the overall society, it is not exactly the case for the more wealthier classes. The samurai class has a family structure that revolves around martial roles for the man and refined artisan roles for the women. Samurai men were expected to only partake in warfare or training for warfare, so any work besides such is seen as beneath them. Samurai women are expected to not touch any role beneath them as well, preferring to do more refined activities like tailoring or horse breeding for either leisure or as the family trade. With the state being in constant total war against Li Dynasty Cathant however, a break in gender roles may happen. It is not uncommon for Oyashiman warrior women to be seen travelling the countryside and taking up arms in an effort to defend against the onslaught of the Li Dynasty Cathant invaders. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ CLANS AND FAMILIES Family is the pillar of Oyashiman society. Blood is sacred, and it is through these ties that the land is built upon. Oyashima blood ties are separated into two halves. The former are the ancient, or noble clans, which can trace their lineage typically either back to branch families of the Imperial Clan, or to foreign noble lines which settled within Oyashima after its founding. The latter are the family lines, which are distinguished from the ancient clans, or honsei. The honsei ceased to be of political relevance politically during the heisei period and the rise of the bushi, or samurai class, however nearly all kuge and samurai family lines can trace their lineage back to the ancient clans. The lower classes of peasantry, on the other hand, are not afforded the privilege of surnames. Aristocratic Clans within Oyashima are further distinguished by the concept of honke and bunke; main and branch families. This is a practice of separation between the main line of a clan, I.E the head and their successor, and the collateral family - such as the head’s siblings, or the siblings of the successor upon their assumption of the honke. This distinguishes and separates the clan in order to prevent obstructions of inheritance, as well as directly subordinating these lesser members of the family to the main line. It is this practice which gave rise to the first honsei. The familial structure within Oyashima is strictly patriarchal, with men dominating societal and familial functions. This is not to say that women are forced into a place of non-relevance on the wider scale as was the case within the feudal structure of occidental society, female regents being commonplace alongside a marked respect for women elders and the reverence of onna-bugeisha. Notable honsei are the Tomiyada, Mitsuyashi, Kazukabe and the Hirakata; of which the Ishikawa and Inoue claim descent from the Mitsuyashi, the Sato from the Hirakata and the Tadayoshi from the Tomiyada. Some notable samurai clans are the aforementioned, as well as the Shimazu, Hiroji, Fujiwara and Kanamura. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ MON Mon are emblems employed within Oyashiman society to identify individuals, families, or institutions in a manner not dissimilar to the western practice of crests or heraldry. There are no specific rules in design, though many are composed of a disk, wherein are contained any variety of figures from flora, fauna, natural or celestial designs. Religious emblems as well as logograms in the native Oyashiman script. Their primary uses are to distinguish these persons or groups, and are especially present on the battlefield wherein clans and individual samurai emblazon their armor, tents and banners with the heraldic charge. This comes also in the form of the nobori banners, which are used as regimental devices on the battlefield to distinguish segments of an army while also displaying its allegiance, as well as the sashimono, which are special banners worn affixed to the armor of both common ashigaru and samurai alike on the battlefield to display the mon of their own clan, in the case of samurai, or of the clan allegiance of the army at large. Mon are strictly regulated in their usage within Oyashima, with it being considered a great affront for a person or clan to take upon the mon of a clan or person of greater social status than themselves. In these cases, the offending party will change their mon as to not deal disrespect. Formal kimono have in recent centuries been made to display the mon of the person or clan, and commoners in this circumstance have been known more and more often to adopt the mon of their patron in order to conform to this fashion. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ GENPUKU Genpuku is a coming-of-age rite which was adopted during the rule of the Shen Dynasty of the Hou-zi by the kuge aristocracy, which would later come to be present within the military caste of Oyashima. At the age of twenty, both men and women of the aristocratic classes of Oyashima undergo the rite which is symbolic in the abandoning of childhood to become adults. Genpuku encompasses a number of rituals leading up to the ceremony, such as requiring a ‘capping parent’ (which is typically a person of influence, or in the case of a male from a samurai family, the head of their clan or their feudal liege). During the genpuku, the childhood coiffure would be loosened and their hair cut and fashioned into the adult style, whereafter their childhood robes or gown would be replaced with that of an adult’s. In the case of the male ceremony, the genpuku would entail the placing of a samurai helmet upon their head (with women receiving a pleated skirt), after which the adult samurai would receive their swords and enter fully into the warrior class as an adult. For both genders, genpuku also represents the freedom to court and to marry, signifying the move from adolescence to adulthood as well as receiving a formal adult name. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ RACE IN OYASHIMA Oyashima is unique among the states of Ai-Zho in the fact that it boasts a racially syncretic society in which humans, elves and, though much more scarcely, dwarves live in a harmonious unity of culture. While eastern dwarves occupy a position relatively indistinguishable from the native Oyashiman, found largely within the peasantry class as artisans and merchants, elves fulfill a more nuanced position owing to the patronage they once received within the Imperial Court. Elves, or Yōsei as they are known in Oyashima, are believed to be spirits given form who can bring the dead back to life and are thought to be immortal. Though the folklore surrounding them has mostly faded as people have grown accustomed to their existence within Oyashima, they still distinguish themselves from the humans of Oyashima in their stringent adherence to the code of the warrior that transcends even the Samurai. Elves find relative favor under the Ishikawa Bafuku and there are noteworthy Daimyō of mixed or entirely elven heritage as well as countless samurai of varying prestige, including hatamoto sworn directly to the Shōgun. A key cultural nuance which distinguishes Oyashiman Elves from their counterparts is the concept of Hakanai. The fleeting nature of life, and the notion that it is unfair for one to live out a dozen lives while men are cursed to only one. Through Hakanai, Yōsei are compelled to embrace mortality in a way. When and if Yōsei reach the otherwise venerable age of two-hundred years, it is expected of them to endeavor in jigai, or suicide. This is achieved through one of two methods. They will either seek out a warrior’s death on the battlefield, engaging in feats of heroism and bravery without concern for their own life until fate delivers them unto the next life. Or, if that is unattainable, the practice of Seppuku, or harakiri; ritual disembowelment. There is however an exception to this in the practice of passing on knowledge, which is considered to be equal in honor to a warrior’s fate. This has led to many of the longer-lived elves in Oyashima maintaining a presence within the many schools of both kenjutsu and kyūjutsu that are found across the land, passing on their wealth of knowledge and technique as revered masters of their respective martial arts. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ MILITARY SAMURAI Samurai are the hereditary military nobility which dominate the Empire of Oyashima, and have come to a place of affluence and authority throughout both periods of the Ishikawa Bakufu. More or less synonymous with the older term, Bushi, or warrior, the samurai find their origins during the Rentai period when the first Bushi warriors came to prominence as insurgent guerilla fighters waging a prolonged war against the Hou-zi occupiers who subjected the nation to suzerainty and displaced the Imperial Clan. These warriors were masters of saddle and bow, marauding the countryside as horse archers in a far cry from what the archetypal samurai is today. The modern ideal of Samurai came to prominence during the Kawato War which led to the establishment of the Shōgunate. With the foundation of powerful warring clans, what it meant to be bushi, or samurai, rapidly changed to suit the new hierarchy and the influx of ideas entering in from Li Dynasty Cathant such as the introduction of the teachings of the beast prophet Hualian from whose teachings the code of life, though distorted to suit the warrior ethos which dominates Oyashima. The term code of life fell out of favor during the second Ishikawa Bakufu, however, and it is now widely regarded as the martial way, or Budō. Today, they constitute the vast majority of landholders and positions of political significance within Oyashima, while many others serve as retainers to the various great clans. They are given three rights which set them apart from the common peoples. The right to wear the daishō, or two swords, which signifies the martial significance as well as the authority of the samurai. The right to a surname, which is not afforded to peasants and thus elevates the samurai to a position that is parallel to the kuge aristocracy of the Imperial Court. And finally, the right to hold lands; a notion from which the samurai’s power was born in their appointments as military governors and land stewards which has evolved over time into a direct feudal assumption of power. There is a precedent also for women to take on the duties of samurai in times of strife, turmoil or otherwise great threat to their family. These women are known as Onna-bugeisha, and are owed the same respect as their husbands for their willingness to take up the martial virtues. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ BUDŌ Budō, known as the martial way, though also more recently popularized as bushidō, the way of the warrior, is a philosophy that is present largely among the military aristocracy - the daimyō and the samurai - of Oyashima. Budō cannot be codified into one set of ideals, as it varies between the numerous clans and samurai families who practice many different principles which set them apart from one another. However, the Ishikawa Bakufu endorses the path of the nine virtues, founded upon the teachings of the prophet Hualian, which is the Ishikawa Clan’s personal interpretation of the bushi’s code of conduct and therefore has become widespread across Oyashima throughout the post-occupation period. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ RIGHTEOUS (GI) Righteousness implores the samurai to believe and act in justice; justice not from others, but from one's heart. To regard all things with honesty and integrity and commit fully to their decisions knowing they are acted upon in faith, virtue and fairness. COURAGE (YŪ) A samurai is, at his core, a true warrior. And a true warrior must have within him the will to confront his demons and face his enemy head-on. To balk and cower, to hide as a turtle in its shell, is not becoming of a warrior. To live life in fulfillment, one must be brave and endeavor towards heroism. BENEVOLENCE (JIN) Through a warrior's station does the samurai know power. Yet this power must be used strictly for good, and not to the detriment of others, who do not know the privilege and strength that the bushi is afforded. To help one's fellow man is the noblest of aspirations, and the samurai will seek out these opportunities to do good wherever they may be found. RESPECT (REI) Samurai have no need for callous action. They have no need to prove themselves before others, for they are judged chiefly by the weight of their own actions. A warrior will not earn respect through his strength on the battlefield alone, but by his treatment of others. When tribulation comes, his true strength is made known. HONESTY (MAKATO) When a samurai gives his word, he will honor it. No barrier will bar him from acting upon it. A samurai needs not give his word, make promises nor give assurances. To speak and to act are one and the same. HONOR (MEIYO) There is only one judge of honor and character. It is the samurai himself. His decisions are a burden borne upon his shoulders and his alone. It is through his deeds that his true reflection manifests, and a warrior, no matter how great, can hide from himself. DUTY (CHŪGI) The burdens of a warrior's actions are carried by him alone. Thus is he responsible for all he has done and said and whatever repercussions those things may hold. For this is their duty, as much as it is the duty of a warrior to honor his master through it. For a samurai is as responsible for his master as he is for him, thus should he remain fiercely true to all those whom he is responsible for. DISCIPLINE (JISEI) A samurai must hone himself as he hones his blade. To surrender oneself to your emotions allows cracks to form, and it is these cracks that shall be exploited by your enemy. Mastering the heart and the mind comes before mastery of the sword and bow, for without these things, a warrior will certainly perish in war. FRATERNITY (TEI) War is a crucible in which bonds are forged. The samurai must hold himself accountable to his sword brothers, and they to him. To do right by your retainer, your master and all those who stand by you in the saddle is the greatest of all virtues, for it is that bond which inspires all others upon the field of battle. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ While the Ishikawa ideal of the Bushi’s way of life is not universally accepted, the principle that remains uniform across all envisionings of a samurai’s code and the way of life of these military aristocrats is honor. Yet honor is, ultimately, subjective to the one who acts in it. Whereas it may mean one thing to one samurai, to another it is vastly different. What is universal in this notion of honor however is the ideals of duty and shame. Through these, several practices have emerged as commonplace amongst the samurai class. Uchisute, or to strike, is a principle that remains prevalent within the Bakufu. It is the privilege of samurai to strike any commoner or person of lesser status who deals them dishonor with a sword. This encompasses rudeness, slights, defamation, hindrance of the samurai or confrontation otherwise. In the case that the original blow failed to kill, the samurai cannot strike a second time, and in the case of death must immediately report it to the nearest government office whereupon they must surrender their blade and enter into a period of homebound contrition for twenty days. These guidelines are strictly enforced and samurai who are found to abuse the right of uchisute are often punished severely - be it through destitution, or execution. Another practice built upon these ideals of honor and dishonor is that of seppuku, or harakiri. A form of ritual suicide that has long been practiced among the samurai of Oyashima, it is typically carried out as an alternative to capture by an enemy in order to preserve one’s honor and die a warrior’s death in lieu of facing torture or other mistreatment at the hands of a foe. This is, however, not always the case and there have been numerous cases where seppuku has been invoked as a manner of command from master to servant, or father to son in incidents which bring dishonor onto the name of a clan or a family, as a capital punishment, or as a manner of redemption for a samurai whose deeds have brought him great shame. Seppuku is traditionally carried out in an elaborate ceremony with the witness of spectators, during which the participant will disembowel themselves with a tantō blade. Though this process is often aided by a participant executioner, known as a kaishakunin, and should the initial blow not be sufficient to kill, wherein they are greeted with a swift end on the edge of a sword via decapitation. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ HEADTAKING The practice of headtaking dates back to the restoration period following the collapse of Hou-zi hegemony over Ai-Zho. On the battlefield, samurai seek out one another in single combat to win respect and glory through martial prowess. Thus, the decapitation of a foe following victory and its subsequent presentation to their feudal liege or master is a proof of duty done and entails financial compensation or the elevation of the samurai to a higher status or greater standing within the court of his liege as a retainer. The greater the prestige and status of the samurai whose head is taken, the greater reward awaits the warrior who claimed it. This practice has, however, led to samurai sometimes taking a head and then abandoning the battlefield entirely with their duty served, so to speak. Following a battle, the victorious lord will oftentimes call for a head viewing ceremony. Leading up to this, the samurai will clean and beautify the decapitated head, combing the hair, dying the teeth, applying makeup and so forth. After this is done, the captured heads will be displayed before the general of the victorious army and dispensation offered to those who presented them. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ ARMAMENTS While various styles of arms and armor have fallen into and out of use, the tosei-gusoku, a style of laminar armor, has remained the most commonplace style since the Cathant occupation was ended and the second Ishikawa Bakufu began however kozane-gusoku style lamellar armor still remains widely used despite this. A samurai’s suit of armor consists of several pieces, and requires a specific order in the wearing of such in order for it to serve as intended. These are the dō, or chestplate, which is typically either made of any variety of lacquered lamellar or laminar plates. The kuzari is a skirt of plates made in the same fashion as the dō, which is affixed to the chestplate by a leather belt in order to protect the groin and upper legs. The sode are large rectangular pauldrons fashioned from either iron or leather plates, often adorned with the mon of the wearer or his allegiance. Kote are glove-like sleeves which protect the hands and the arms, made of cloth and affixed with leather or metal plates, or more rarely, kusari chainmail. The kabuto is the iconic helmet of the Oyashiman samurai, varying widely in design however they are generally shaped with a shikoro, or suspended neckguard composed of overlapping lamelar strips which protect the neck and sides of the head. Kabuto belonging to samurai are almost always adorned with a crest, or datemoto, which vary as much as the helmets do in design and lend a level of personalization to a suit of armor. Mengu are lacquered masks of metal or leather that are affixed to the kabuto and serve as facial protection. Commonly, designs of these are made to be demonic or otherwise menacing in appearance, sometimes being fixed with whiskers to give the appearance of a moustache. Finally, the haidate and suneate are the thigh and shin guards which are plates of iron or leather sewn to cloth in the same way as kote sleeves, and typically affixed with kusari. The suneate are made from splints and are tied around the calf. Generally speaking, the armor of peasant ashigaru or other such warriors, like sōhei, are devolved examples of samurai armor either of inferior design, or lacking in various components of a full set of armor. Though an example similarly iconic to the samurai’s own armor is the jingasa, which is akin in design to a farmer’s straw hat, however fashioned out of lacquered metal or leather in the same way as their lord’s armor. Weaponry varies more widely than the styles of armor. The most iconic of them, however, are the swords of Oyashima - renowned widely for their exotic and sleek designs. Oyashiman swords are separated into three categories. The ōdachi, the daitō and the shōtō - the great, long and short sword. Each of these categories serve in the same curved design, however the ōdachi is generally uniform in that there are not many subvarieties of the type of sword. They are generally of a length of thirty-five inches or longer and are most effectively used as either anti-cavalry weapons or in one-on-one duels, considering they are not suited to close-quarters combat and are unable to be effectively utilized in group melee. An ōdachi is too large to be worn affixed to the belt, so they are generally carried sheathe in hand or across the back, though the latter is impractical in combat and is more cumbersome to draw. Daitō are the main weapon of choice for the samurai class. There are two types of daitō. The first being the older style of tachi, which differ from other daitō in a longer length and size, as well as having a sharper curve to them. Tachi are intended as cavalry swords to be used from the saddle, however they are also used on foot by the samurai class. Tachi are worn with the edge down, and are affixed to the belt with handle mounts. The second form of daitō is the uchigatana, or the katana - as both are used interchangeably with uchigatana typically inferring a lesser quality of make though no real difference in design. They are shorter than the tachi and have a less pronounced curve in the blade. They are widely considered to be the symbol of samurai authority within Oyashima, having become the favored weapon of the samurai during and following the Cathant occupation due to the necessity for fighting in closer quarters which made the tachi largely obsolete due to its unwieldiness and inefficiency in such encounters. They are worn with the edge of the blade facing up, through the belt instead of tied to it. This in turn makes the motion of unsheathing the weapon a strike in itself, making them readily more suited to the chaos of close-quarters combat. Finally, there are the shōtō. They are most commonly seen in two varieties in the same way as there are tachi and katana. These are wakizashi and tantō. Wakizashi are similar to uchigatana in design, however being much shorter ranging anywhere from twelve to twenty-four inches, being used primarily as a sidearm when without their sword or in indoors or otherwise cramped fighting. Tantō on the other hand are similar to daggers in size and serve that same function, being stabbing weapons at their core. Other varieties of weapons exist, and are by and large more common than swords in Oyashima though these are favored by the peasant classes and the sōhei. Examples are the yari spear, which is the common tool of the ashigaru peasant footman as well as many samurai who prefer the versatility of the weapon on the battlefield. In this same vein are naginata, a polearm tipped with a sword blade that is typically employed as the weapon of choice by warrior monks and onna-bugeisha, or female samurai warriors. Many other weapons do exist though are less widely used, such as the kanabō war club or the bō staff. Archery is another tool of the Oyashimans that is widely employed, and very much integral in the samurai warrior culture. The implement of choice is the yumi bow, however variants of it do exist being shorter or longer. The asymmetrical shape of the yumi lends to its initial use primarily on horseback. They are generally fashioned out of bamboo, although other laminated wood is occasionally used, strung with hemp, and they are paired to arrows which are unique to Oyashima, called ya. They are longer than western arrows and are generally tipped with steel, though the design of the head varies depending on purpose. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ MARTIAL ARTS Oyashima is known for its warrior culture, and with that comes a wide variety of martial practices which have been honed over the centuries among not only the ruling samurai class, but also in monastic circles. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ KENJUTSU Kenjutsu is the art of the sword, and encompasses dozens of styles and variations which are practiced primarily by the samurai of Oyashima. The two most notable and widespread of these are nitōjutsu, ittōjutsu and battōjutsu. Nitōjutsu roughly becomes two sword methods, or two sword arts, and its popularity is intrinsically tied to the rise of the daishō throughout the Cathant Occupation and beyond. Schools which teach this style focus upon the use of the daitō and shotō in tandem to promote combat effectiveness both on the battlefield and within close quarters, ambush and so forth. Battōjutsu, on the other hand, exists as a result of the rise of the uchigatana and katana as the primary tool of the samurai warrior, meaning the method, art or craft of drawing out the sword. Because of the way these weapons are worn, drawing the blade becomes a strike and thus battōjutsu is the honing of this as a skill of war, focusing upon effectiveness in duels and and so on through mastering distancing, timing and targeting for the samurai to be able to effectively kill an enemy before he has an opportunity to counter-attack through an unexpected blow. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ KYŪJUTSU Kyūjutsu has its roots in the oldest days of Oyashima when the bushi first waged their insurgency against their occupiers and remained the key symbol of a samurai's station until more recent years. Kyūjutsu as a result focuses upon the core aspects of archery, as well as yabusame, or mounted archery - skill in both are prized and core parts of the art, which is practiced through the use of the Oyashiman yumi bow. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ MISCELLANEOUS ARTS Various other martial arts exist, such as sōjutsu, the art of the spear, which focuses upon the use of the yari spear and its use within the tight formation employed by ashigari as well as its use on horseback. Naginatajutsu, which taught the use of the naginata and emphasized its length as a weapon to focus on anti-cavalry techniques as well as manipulating distance which lended to the weapon's prominence as that of female samurai, avoiding direct confrontation where they might be overpowered. Jujutsu, or the gentle art, which focused on unarmed techniques that could be used either offensively or defensively to subdue or kill an unarmed opponent, as well as facing off against armed and armored opponents unarmed through the principle of using an attacker's momentum against them rather than opposing it - primarily through the use of throws, pins and other grappling techniques. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ SUMO Sumo has its roots within the courts of Daimyō and their retainers, existing as a form of military training and spectacle alike for samurai. The popularity of sumō is so rampant that Daimyō will sponsor wrestlers and their training and award success often with titles and positions. Sumo as a practice involves posture and weight, as great girth and body mass traditionally lend to being a winning factor in these wrestling bouts as the condition for victory is to force the opponent out of the ring, or to force them to touch the ground with a body part besides the soles of their feet. Therefore, sumo focuses upon grappling and overpowering an opponent through raw strength, size and leverage, which are the aspects that wrestlers are trained in and focus on throughout their careers. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ RELIGION TAIKYŌ The predominant religion within Oyashima is called Taikyō, or the Great Religion. It is a syncretic blend of the native beliefs of the Oyashiman people reaching back to the earliest settlement of the land by the first Emperor and the teachings of the prophet Hualian, however not accepting the eightfold path or the four truths in their entirety and instead taking from it the notion of uncovering one’s true inner self and the inherent emptiness found within the material earth. Taikyō therefore elevates the ideal of discipline of the mind, and virtuous life through loyalty and honor alongside it. Beyond this, the people of Oyashima exalt order and purity, through which they worship the Kami; an infinite amount of spirits that embody the land, dwelling within every aspect of nature - from the smallest blade of grass to the highest mountain. While the Kami are infinite, a number of them are elevated to greater status and worshipped broadly as a pantheon through which they are venerated at numerous shrines across Oyashima that are dedicated to them. Notable deities include Izanagi and Izanami, who created all things and embody life and death, Susanoo, the god of storms and the sea, Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon, Raijin, god of lightning and thunder, Ryūjin the sea dragon and Inari, the fox god. Alongside the gods they worship, the Oyashimans have a wealth of folklore and mythology that spans centuries. These include various spirits and supernatural forces that are not given worship and reverence in the same way as the Kami are. These include beings such as Namazu, a great catfish who is kept in check by the Kami god Kashima, whose thrashing is said to be the cause of the many earthquakes that are common in Oyashima. And on the other hand are the Yōkai, demons, monsters and spirits who range from anything from malevolent in nature to simply mischief-makers or beings that bring good fortune to those who cross their paths. And the Yūrei, which are the restless and oftentimes vengeful spirits of the death deprived of a peaceful afterlife. The Taikyō is upheld and maintained by monks and temple-families - hereditary shrine keepers who maintain the many temples across the land. Taikyō fundamentally differs from religions found in western lands, such as Creatorism (Canonism, Rashidun), or Aengudaemonic cults. It is, in essence, a non-religion in the sense that there is no mandate or codified scripture admonishing its followers for failing to live to a specific purpose. Worship in Taikyō is made of two parts; the realization of one’s self through discipline, duty, virtue and loyalty. And through the ritualism in which the Kami are exalted. Pilgrimage and the paying of respects at a shrine is the extent of organized worship within the faith, being steeped within ritual-based deference and respect, shrine visits being made to offer such courtesy to its respective Kami and to earn favor and good blessings through that. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ ARTS AND CULTURE FESTIVITIES Due to the militastic and religious fervor constant in most of the Oyashiman, festivals and holidays of all kinds take place within the land. At the beginning of the tenth month, the nation celebrates the Festival of the Dragon of Triumph. This festival marks the beginning of the Oyashiman New Year and marks the day in which Prince Kais liberated the people of Oyashima from Cathant. All towns and cities work on glorious parade floats depicting various battles of that famous war or colorful floats for musicians to play on and dancers to dance on. In the beginning days of spring, at the first sight of rainfall, an annual day for all Kami worshippers to go into their temples and ask for intercession from their ancestors is done called the First Drips of the River. On the winter solstice, the city of Yamatai hosts one of the most luxurious festivals in all of Ai-Zho named the Great Rising Tempest. It is the one day of the whole year where the Oyashiman wear masks in the shapes of Oni all while drinking or smoking under the skies of fireworks going off. The Shōgun himself also personally finances the plethora of fireworks, dancers, and floats as a show of their power. An odd reversal of class roles also takes place during this festival whereby the upper classes personally treat the poor as a sort of nobility. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ ARCHITECTURE The architecture of Oyashima has changed invariably throughout the centuries of vastly different rulers and ever shifting culture. The most visible disparity, however, exists between the homes held by different classes within the region. The architecture of a daimyō’s home varies ostensibly with that of members of the shinōkōshō, for example. Oyashimans almost universally believe in the Kami’s manifestation within nature. Trees, waterfalls, valleys and mountains are all often seen as the homes and personifications of these spirits. The numinous qualities that permeated throughout nature mixed with the ancient and long upheld venerance of the Kami formed the basis of Oyashiman architecture. This overall appreciation of nature’s intrinsic benevolence further conjured beliefs regarding inner peace, respect and the idea that states such as immutability and transcendent perfection were not natural norms. Every aspect of reality was understood through life’s inevitable cycle of birth, growth, death and decay. All of these ideals, customs and beliefs have undoubtedly planted themselves in Oyashima’s architecture, and have persisted with them since the beginning. Oyashiman architecture’s proximity to nature helped to reinforce an aesthetic that delineated from artifice and inspired a union with the environment. This aptness to conform to nature led toward at times asymmetrical layouts that followed the contours and layouts of the native topography of Oyashima, often filled with hills and mountains. This also led to compound home designs that gained prominence following the Raizo period in Oyashima. These qualities moreover existed in Oyashiman architecture’s long verandas, sliding panels/doors (fusuma) and open exitries which each portrayed vistas of nature, whether carefully formulated or real. Pristine and unweathered material, whether in art or architecture, was seen as cold, distant and fabricated. This led to buildings of all sorts to use material that, while weathered or even dirty, would last and fit the overall texture of the nature-oriented aesthetic. This basic and minimalist style that oriented itself almost entirely around the veneration of nature conjoined with the influence of Cathant architecture following their invasion, ultimately resulting in a merge between the two. Symmetry was newly appreciated within the structure of buildings and it resulted in a more linear take on overall architectural design. Overall, the style is best known for its wooden base, elevated from the ground, with tiled or thatched roofing. Walls were replaced with fusumas that allowed for a variety of decorations and a shift in a room's purpose or even location at times. Seating arrangements were denoted by cushions placed upon the floor with low tables. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ SHIRO Oyashiman castles developed from fortifications built for defense during times of great war or strife. Oftentimes they were built atop strategic locations such as trade routes, rivers, and roads. Despite their initial purpose as a defensive location, Shiro were also the centers of governance within Oyashima. Daimyō and other figures of renown or importance resided within Shiro alongside their family, and at times, close retainers. Oyashiman castles soon developed into a show of power, with Daimyō displaying their size, architecture, and elegance to impress and intimidate other rulers. Soon, basic castles made from wood developed into something more akin to a fortified palace. Materials mainly consisted of ornate stone and wood, and the designs began to acquire tower keeps, called tenshukaku. During the early Tengōi period, the style began to truly emerge to what it is today, with castle towns, or jōkamachi becoming commonplace. Almost always these fortresses were at the ends of the towns, and were elevated off the ground. In some occurrences, specifically the Ishikawa in Yamatai developed the majority of the modern city from a Shiro and the tenshukaku that surrounded it. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ TORII Torii are Taikyō gates that mark the exit from the mundane and the entrance into the spiritual. All places marked with Torii are immediately designated as significant homes or places of the Kami. The gates are formed from wood or stone, either left unpainted or painted vermillion. Following Cathant’s Hua-Jiao influence in Oyashima during their invasion, zen ideals adopted into Taikyō and torii soon began to further signify places of inner peace. These places would lead into larger shrines or temples, where beings and spirits come together to meditate and find introspection. A torii’s architecture is defined by two large posts with dual parallel shimaki cutting through the posts and protruding outward on either side. Different torii designs carry varying ornamentals and some even contain gables and adjacent torii connected to a main one. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ ART Oyashiman art, like most arts, varies widely in application. From pottery,ceramics and sculpture to calligraphy and ink painting, Oyashimans have found many entities from which they express themselves and the world around them. Throughout eras of great influence from their surroundings, to those spent in seclusion and isolation, the tone and forms in which art were popular have changed and been forged by Oyashima’s vast history. Oyashiman art initially began with portrayals of nature, and by extension, Kami. The heavy role that Taikyō took in influencing the art was displayed in depictions of Kami amongst their homes and oni toiling with evil or unfulfilled souls. Oyashiman pottery is of an extremely high quality, with porcelain becoming an expensive and important trade commodity with men and women devoting their entire lives to the art of pottery. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ MUSIC The music of the land of Oyashima is filled with music of three types: inward reflective, thunderous epics, and eerily melancholy.The tadayoshin, named after the respective clan, is the most prominent of styles found within cities and towns. This style employs the use of the shakuhachi, a longitudinal end-blown flute, to bring a more graceful flow of the songs as well as not provide so much “noise” to the listener in an attempt to allow reflection with relative ease. A prominent style employed by the warrior class of Oyashima is the Ōji-sama, named after the famous Shōgun Ishikawa Kais, which is one of thunderous roars and applause, making good use of the shamisen, a three stringed eastern lute, a taiko, a Oyashiman drum, and a shakuhachi. This style of music is quite prominent within battlefields invoking not only orders commanded by officers through the use of a taiko, but a sign of the Shōgunate’s power and strength, creating a truly frightening sound against their foes. The most recently created, machi, named after a famous lady-in-waiting at the court of the Emperor, is an eerily variant of the common tadayoshin to reflect her melancholic life through the use of minor keys. The style also forces a relative cap on the tempo of the songs, creating a phenomenal as the listener expects the tempo to pick up but never does. This is cleverly done through the use of a kagurabue, a six-to-seven holed flute, by raising the volume higher and lower with the added support of a whole orchestra to create an uneasy anxiety within the listener. This style is mostly only seen in a court setting, especially that of a Daimyō and above. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ POETRY The Shōgunate of Oyashima has a numerous number of poetic forms unable to be listed due to a cultural love of poetry, but a popular poetic forms are the haiku and renga. A haiku is the opening stanza of a renga, but has morphed into a poetic form itself due to the ease in which a writer may express their thoughts and emotions about nature or other topics in a short stanza. Each haiku is made up of three lines, with syllables being in a 5-7-5 pattern. A renga is the original form, including a haiku, and alternates from 5-7-5 pattern to 7-7 pattern every other stanza three times until the poem form has finished. Renga is usually a collaborative effort of two or more people, with each person writing a stanza after the other, but soloist renga have been known to be common practice by certain poets and certain regions of Oyashima. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ CUISINE Food, seen as the cornerstone of the Oyashiman culture and known for its earth-oriented cuisine and balanced nutritional value, serves as a great pride of the Oyshiman people. The food native to the Oyahiman homeland is often described as having a savory and holding a deliciously delicate taste. Many foods are seared, boiled or eaten raw and minimally seasoned with salts and other various umami oriented ingredients that excrete deeper flavors when cooked in unison or separately, eventually blending together in a harmony of taste which comes with a deep yet simple flavor profile. While the flavor is the true key, the presentation, preparation and seasonal focus on meals creates a unique environment like no other when one tastes the cuisine. For example, within the spring months, the Oyashiman flavor profile consists of bitter flavors that give a unique bite to their food and opens the palate of the eater so that the more earthy-notes to be appreciated and savored from the bitterness of the core ingredients meal. These seasonal dishes and flavors will be discussed below. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ PEASANT DISHES Peasants within Oyshima tend to be very poor and what food they can come by presents itself as grain in the form of Millet. Millet is the most common food and adorned sometimes with various herbs to help create a more flavorful experience on the palette. Edible grasses are also a favorite among the peasantry of Oyashima, offering a nourishing albeit simple taste befitting their common birth. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ MIDDLE CLASS DISHES Dishes served in the middle class are a bit more refined yet not as delicate nor healthy as those of the upper class. Utilizing foods like shellfish, seaweed, and common trout to satisfy their hunger. Often paired with small amounts of rice or millet, dishes like sushi became a staple for the Oyashiman middle class. Soups with onions and vegetable broth were paired with meat or seafood if one is able to afford it, offering a more luxurious nature and refinement to the traditional meals. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ UPPER CLASS DISHES The high class of Oyashima dined upon the most beautiful selections of food able to be made in Oyashima. Sushi, bone broth, fish cuts, sea cucumber, bonito, bream, sea bass, eel, carp, mackerel, sardine, salmon, trout, shark, prawns, squid, jellyfish, and crab are all foods in which the upper echelon of Oyashiman are privy to, paired often with rice or rice noodles. These were used with several kinds of vegetables and often noodles were made from rice and placed within broth or sauce and cooked or fried to compliment the main part of the meal, be it fish or meat. Salt, ginger, mint, garlic, and vinegar all are utilized in order to create a rich umami flavor that softens the palate and offers an appetizing meal full of nourishment and flavor. Sesame oil, rice jelly, and honey have also been known to make appearances in Oyashiman cuisine, adding a depth of flavor in terms of sweet and bitter notes. Often those of the privileged nature are much more healthy and filled out, yet their diet keeps them in a fit physique as the ingredients of most meals prevent them from becoming plump or malnourished, offering them a perfect balance of both flavors and nutrition. ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ Credits @JoanOfArc@_Sug@Quantumatics@KBR for idea and writing contributions alongside myself. And also @WuHanXianShi14 for his easterner lore and @Will (TauFirewarrior) for the old Oyashima lore and the original concept.
  8. “O Holy, Sanctified and Great Michael, Archaengul of the Lord, six-winged prince, leader of the heavenly host, Lord of Battle, be my helper and vanquish all my foes by the power of the Heavenly Cross of the Lord, make them as meek as sheep before me and disperse them like dust before the wind. Amen.” Father Seraphim concluded his prayer from his new prefecture within the city of Owynsburg shortly after reading over the declaration, instilled with a newfound fervor knowing that the Vicar of God stood against the heathens who sought to sow disunity among the tribes of men. He signed himself with the Lorraine before retreating to his study to prepare his upcoming homilies.
  9. I hate Christianity in real life so I hate Canonism. Cancel Canonism.
  10. “To imply that the holy words of the Canon as revealed to us by the Ex. Prophets are not present in our houses of worship, witnessed through our liturgical traditions, is a most irreverent and uneducated stance to make. I fear this ‘theologian’ they have dredged up from whatever spiritual gutter they found him in is very much lacking in the wisdoms that would be expected of someone who is learned in the field, and this appears to me to be little more than a personal opinion piece upon what his ideal of the faith is, built upon misconceptions formed of the mind, rather than what is the objective truth and presence of our Holy Church through the shepherding of the Canonist flock across all nations and the evangelization that is carried out by our prelates abroad.” Fr. Seraphim of Leora stated openly amid the streets of Helena as he read over the latest edition of the Herald, expressing his dismay at the contents of the theological perspective found within.
  11. ”You seem to misunderstand the point that I make entirely. For you to say that Intercession is a welcomed thing in our monotheistic faith – Canonism, yet to then contradict yourself in saying that to pray for intercession is heathenry is telling, perhaps, of a lack of education in the faith. You say that we must begin our prayers with O Lord, O God. Yet, in all the years that the faithful have beseeched the intercession of the Saints, they would not open their prayers with O God, for they do not pray to God, but to the Saint or in this context the Aengul. No matter if we pray to our intercessor, we do not worship them, but ask for them to grant us strength and lift us on high in their prayers to the Lord. When a crusader calls upon Saint Lucien to pray for him, and to lend him blessings and strength in the battle to come, he does not need open his prayer with O God. When we pray to Saint Jude for discernment, we say this – Saint Jude, thine own writings reveal thyself to be perfectly content with how thou lived thy life, and I seek that same contentment. Am I to find it by becoming thy son, by virtue of my Brotherhood to monks? I am ready to mortify myself and accept whatever God doth will with a contrite heart, if only thou wilt help me to find out whatsoever he wills. When we pray to Saint Kristoff in our times of struggle and tribulation, we say, Saint Kristoff, the foe presses me from all sides. The occasion of sin gathers round about me, and I am too weak to resist alone. Therefore, pray for me to God, to grant me strength in this difficult time; bid Him dry my tears and renew my Faith. Because we are calling upon the Saints to intercede for us. We see specifically in the dogmatic tenets of the Church, “They are also thought to intercede on man's behalf.” This referring to the Aenguls. And in the Catechism of the Canonist Church which speaks to detail on the nature of intercession and in the clarification that it is not worship but veneration. If you stand against intercession then you make yourself opposed to the intrinsic beliefs of our faith. We venerate, we do not worship. We pray to, yet this prayer is the asking of their aid in making us stronger in the wealth of our love for God; to make known our petitions and to strengthen us and protect us. If you cannot see in these prayers that each and every one calls upon the divine and omnipresent glory of our Lord through his servants, then I fear I can be of no further help, for a man cannot be made to see the truth but only aided in doing so.” He offered a definitive refutation on the man’s continued championing of that point, returning to his work in earnest.
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