"Now Mu, you have everything packed right?"

Musashi sighed.  How many times was his ridiculously overprotective mother going to go over his inventory?  Maybe he should have scheduled a different ship to the mainland of Sosaria… like a year later.

"I’m fine.  I have everything I’ll need.  I hear this is a rich and profitable place… surely my 100 gold coins, silly pathetic dagger and scant reagents will be enough for me."  Mu looked at his forlorn belongings and sighed.  These clothes he was being encouraged to wear, the short pants, short sleeved shirt and dopey shoes, were thought of as "typical Sosarian wear"; the more he thought about it, the more he thought he might as wear a big sign that said "Please Kill Me".

"If only they would allow you to bring a decent weapon!  Who knows what sort of glory and fortune you might be able to find with a fine Nihon daisho!  Those gaijin can’t make a decent blade.   Halberds… crossbows… the inelegance of it all.  I hear those ignorant fools even hold a katana in one hand!"

"Erm… don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll get a chance to umm prove my might soon enough Ma."  Mu fidgeted; although he was named for a famous kensho of Nihon, a sword-saint, and his family placed high value on martial prowess, Musashi was at best indifferent to the praise heaped upon those who proved their worth by slicing the life out of another man with a piece of metal.  Truth be told, unbeknownst to his family he had stopped attending kenjutsu classes for months; setting out every day in the direction of the master’s house, he would detour through the woods to wind up in the town square clothier, where he would sit and admire the simple art of manipulating pieces of silk and thread to make fine kimonos.

His childhood hero, Jiro the tailor-poet, would expound for hours on the fine art and technique of being a master clothier, and Musashi would listen to him with rapt attention.  Here was an art he could admire… although an admittedly feeble effort, stylistic clothing was the best way to distinguish oneself as a self-aware being in the otherwise anonymous cosmos, a demand to be recognized as such by the uncaring universe.  Of course, Jiro had been recently sliced to pieces by a ronin who chose to express his individuality by slaughtering effete tailors who tried to walk around as if the world was not governed by force.  Musashi was still trying to come up with an argument for that one… reason over violence… but periodically dismissed the effort as useless, since it would probably be difficult to explain his logic to a highwayman who was flaying him alive in his ever-so-fashionable clothes.

With a few kind words to his mother and some badly posed bravado in the direction of his father, Mu stepped onto the boat and prepared for the long and incredibly laggy journey to the mainland.

 


Sosaria was even less refined than he had believed.  His ship had docked in the city of Vesper, which Musashi was led to believe was a thriving metropolis of artisans and craftsmen, but what a city!  Streets of more-or-less packed dirt, naked men (and women) running to and from with nary a thought to modesty, thieves being hacked down in the street by rabid guardsmen and left to rot, and worst of all, people COOKING fish on open fires!  "Barbaric…" he thought, and immediately wished to be back in Nihon, where at least a wimpy tailor/poet could have a few years of happiness before some madman cut him into stew beef.  Looking at the multitude of skull-faced murderers lurking just outside of the town limits like so many heavy crossbow-wielding toll collectors, he estimated that Jiro would have lasted about 6 heartbeats in this foul place.

Having read in an inane Sosarian travel guide about the customs of new arrivals, he performed all of the necessary tasks to establish himself as a typical citizen of the area; he fell asleep hitting training dummies, he practiced hiding for hours on end for no particular reason, he borrowed a lute and annoyed everyone in hearing distance with his awful playing (a lute being significantly different from a shamisen).  There were some things he absolutely would not do, as they seemed far too stupid, such as practicing the carpenter’s trade on a single piece of wood, whittling it all night long, getting a shovel and digging ore out of the earth for the sole purpose of bodybuilding, or memorizing the mantras of the local deities, such as "Vendor Buy Bank Guards" and "I Will Take Thee".

After performing these unfathomable rites, Musashi went directly to the tailor shop.  After getting over his revulsion at the rough quality of the cloth and the poor fashion sense exhibited by the townsfolk, Musashi dove into the art of tailoring, quickly realizing that this would be extremely profitable in this land; although adventurers tended to wear the same smelly, soiled, disgusting clothing for weeks and months on end, the townsfolk always seemed to need more of everything, especially skullcaps (an oddity, since Musashi never actually saw someone wearing one).  Mu happily sat in the shop, made money, talked to adventurers, and occasionally sent home a small sum of gold to his family, with a note describing all sorts of ficticious escapades and adventures; sometimes he would buy a cheesy magic weapon like a well-worn accurate club or durable leather gloves and send it along, claiming to have wrested it from the clutches of a black daemon or some such creature.

Of course, out of some sort of nonsensical duty to the family tradition, Musashi practiced a bit in the combat arts, and was eventually able to handle weak opposition like orcs, skeletons, and the occasional ettin, without too much trouble.  Circumstance and good relations with the people had given him opportunities to ride off to the rescue, as it were, saving friends of his who were even more pathetic fighters than he was.  Very rarely did anyone see him bested in combat, and rightly so; Musashi was a carefully calculating coward, and had learned to run before being caught up in anything resembling an actual fight.

 


One day, just as Musashi was beginning to think he might be able to soon afford a house, a young girl came bounding into the tailor shop.  "Are you Musashi?" she asked.

Musashi sized her up.  Late teens maybe, oriental eyes and skin, a bad dye job and a worse attitude.  A bit young, and that disposition usually meant trouble… oh what the hell… "Sure I’m Musashi.  And you are… hey!"

Without another word, she shoved a note into his hand and began to paw through his backpack.   "Hey wait a minute, what are you… HEY!" yelled Mu as she grabbed a handful of gold.

"Oh I’m just going to go train on some dummies, and I thought I might pick up this prepatch emminently accurate hammerpick of power and daemon’s breath for it.  See ya soon!  Oh, and I’ll need armor and reagents and a full spellbook and a…"  Her voice trailed out as she skipped through the door, the cloth-laden Mu unable to hobble after her to regain his  hard-earned cash.  Fuming, he read the note:

"Musashi, this is an… err… friend of the family, Kagero.  She had to… well, we decided maybe she should come to Sosaria for a while after she accidentally lost the keys to your family’s home and spent all of your father’s money on frivolities and was caught by your mother in the… anyway, please keep an eye on her and try and teach her some manners.  She is a good fighter, but with your mastery of combat, we know you should be able to keep her in line and gain her immediate respect and devotion.  —Your brother, Koichi."

Musashi sighed.  Of course this had to happen now… just when he was ready to maybe go and pay some trainer in Serpent’s Hold to actually teach him to fight.  Now he had to watch out for some irresponsible idiot all day… lose the house keys?  How absurd.  No one could be that stupid…

 


Several weeks (and about 40k in scholarship funding to his new charge) later, Kagero came back.  "Guess what Mu?" she said, her bouncy attitude betraying her lack of sympathy for Musashi’s hollow eyes and sleepless shuffling from the loom to the tailor and back in slow, labored steps.

"No idea… it can’t be good though," said Mu.  This was in most cases true; anytime Kagero came by it was rarely good news… for him, anyway.

"Oh you’re always so depressed.  Cheer up!"  said Kagero as she lifted another few thousand gold from Musashi, who didn’t even have the strength to protest anymore.  "Guess what… I’m going to be an alchemist!  I found this GM Alchemist, Maegara… she’s with the Lost Order of Akalabeth, and she’s willing to train me!  Isn’t that great?"

"Uh huh…" Having not seen the light of day for longer than 3 minutes at a time since Kagero came into his charge, Mu had absolutely no idea about guilds and such.  He only had a vague memory of guilds… large groups of murderers in bone armor with heavy crossbows and halberds, hailing with the standard guild greeting, "Corp Por".

"Hey, Alchemy is a bit expensive to train… I need to go buy reagents."  Musashi groaned… this was a standard Kagero plea for more money.

"How much this time?"

"Oh, I figure about… 8k per day" she said casually.

The world went black…

 


Over time, Musashi eventually visited the LOA village, where Kagero was already making gigantic inroads as a popular and formidable person seeking membership.  He had some pleasant conversations with this bunch, who it turned out were not bone-faced ebolters as so many guilds were.  Unfortunately, most of these conversations went something like, "So what do you do?… Oh I’m a tailor… No really, what do you do?…", and were often interrupted by the sudden appearance of a pack of hell hounds right in front of Mu, forcing him to abandon standard conversational ettiquette in the interests of saving his too-soft hide.  For a while he believed the standard Sosarian greeting was "Heal Musashi!" instead of "Hail Musashi!"

"Damn it, I suck!" complained the now-well-versed-in-Sosarian-slang Musashi after an LOA dungeon mission he had foolishly allowed himself to be talked into.  Well it was fun, watching all of the bone magi dropping around him and such… until a "guild" (who fit with Mu’s old definition of the term) sauntered in; strangely thinking that perhaps this would be a good idea to make an impressive valiant stand, the silly tailor wound up insubstantial and colorblind yet again, just a bit too late getting to the escape gate.

"Cheer up Mu, not everyone has to be a super fighter" said Deathwish Dragon.  It was true that Deathwish at the time was not the master of personal combat that many strived to be (of course, he was saying this with a GIGANTIC tame dragon sitting contentedly next to him).

Musashi considered this… and quickly dismissed it.  "Bah, unless you’re Mr. Combat you’re dogfood out there.  Why should I be a liability in a combat situation?  It’s the only situation that matters!  Great, I can write a book or make a nice robe; they will look splendid in the house of the man who will murder me tomorrow."  Musashi was deep in his cups, as was oft his condition, and all of his misgivings were once again coming to the fore.

"I feel that perhaps you have not fully embraced the ways of this land of ours… the methods of training, the lore of survival, as it were" several other guild members advised him.

"At this point I’ll try anything," grumbled Musashi, eager for any sort of change.  Nothing could be worse than tailoring for days on end, interspersed with the occasional death.

 


In the days and weeks that followed, Musashi studied the ways of this land as best he could.  Like a new chara… err, man, he dutifully followed all of the suggestions given him… being a dull, clumsy ox at the beginning, mercilessly beating on training dummies for no reason as he did before, doing completely logical things like imprisoning a polar bear and torturing it day after day to become a better archer, generating mystical walls of fire which he then walked into in the hopes that self-conflagration today would prevent death from magic attack tomorrow… he did draw the line at whittling a piece of wood forever, no matter how many archers, swordsmen, mages, alchemists, etc. said it had done wonders for their careers.

And perhaps this new way paid off, or perhaps someone noticed… "Congratulations Musashi, you’re an initiate!" said guild founder Brimstone one day, clapping him on his charred and clawed shoulder.

"Huh… wha…" Mu stumbled over his words, as his tongue was still blistered from burning himself to near-death and he had lot a lot of blood while torturing the polar bear.  "Umm… I mean… wow, thanks!"  His chest swelling with pride, Musashi allowed himself to rejoice in this acceptance into a guild of good and fun people, forgetting for one brief shining moment that he sucked.

And as the other LOA stood around him, shaking his hand and also forgetting that he sucked, Musashi felt a glimmer of hope in his bleak and dreary existence.  "Perhaps… this can work out… I don’t HAVE to be hopeless… these are good people here… and they haven’t killed me yet, which is a good thing… I’m almost content… now all I need is a house, a little secure place I can call my own and relax in… a house… a house…"

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