Credit - The world and setting of L5R is not mine, though I happily venture forth into that world from time to time.

Author's Note - An experimentation with trying to show 'layers of thought'. Ohashi is one of my most internalised characters, to the point where most of my roleplaying is silence, facial expressions, and avoiding of eye contact. Whereas Keneng had a lot to say and wasn't afraid to say it, Ohashi is much more of a thinker, much less likely to speak her mind. I've played her as shy thus far, but I think things are about to change…

There is a rare moment of respite in their travels, and they are gathered around a campfire. Ide-san is tending to the horses

(she calls them 'ponies' and refuses to ride)

while food is being prepared over the fire. The Tamori keeps her distance from the group. There is no rice bowl in front of her, and her splinted wrist rests across her lap; she watches the fire

(a rising billow of sparks wing through the air like little fireflies that flicker and die all too soon, like my dreams)

Extrapolations and experiments of the pasts do indeed prove that heat rises; Fire and Earth kami can work together to create lift of a mass much greater than...

silently, paying the others no mind as her eyes go distant. She has spoken little since leaving Shiro Mirumoto, but that's only to be expected. She doesn't talk much anyway. When she gave her food to the Crab, it was seen as unusual; she has not been

(Forgive my interruption, Hida-san, but if I may offer this humble gift…)

outgoing or even able to make eye-contact without the Tobune

Broken but not gone, because the schematics are filed not just in the library… Every line and sketch and drawing is seared into memory; all is known, how it should have been built, and how to build it again.

and the power of flight to exult her into being able to talk to the others, let alone be in their presence. Still, her silence and her distance is a little unnerving to the others, especially now.

If only they knew what was in her heart.

(If only they knew me.)

She clenches her fist for a moment, watching the rising smoke and embers, and winces a little at the pain in her left hand until she remembers to un-tense her muscles. The Tobune is broken. Her master is murdered. And the only reason she is going to Unicorn territory is because Master Kang's last order

(had he known it would be his last? Would it have mattered?)

is not one she intends to disobey, even for the sake of the Tobune. For Kang's sake, she will do as she was told. She sits, still and silent, by the campfire.

However, her heart is anything but still.

Travelling as we are there is no time to stop and build something large, and no means to carry something weighty. I will have to make something smaller, lighter.

She is Izaku, after all, inheriting both the Phoenix and Dragon bloodlines. She has both the stubbornness and tenacity

(the Tobune was Kang's life work, I will not forget him nor the flights)

of the mountain, and the passion and drive of the naked flame. Thus far, what has she been but a pebble, or a flickering candle flame? An Izaku shugenja from the City of Forges. Like a new blade, she was untested, untried… and now broken after her first trial.

Now, the teacher she saw as a mountain fortress is gone, and the fire she spent a year of her life and energy and happiness on has been scattered over the ground at Shiro Mirumoto. One could say her hope is gone, and her life is over. But Ohashi has never known despair, and perhaps that is why she is dealing with this so… uniquely.

Size is an issue. Something smaller, designed to carry one person in the same way one carries a pack. Perhaps a pack to carry a person instead of the other way around? Yes, but how? Bears examination.

She remembers the crash of the Tobune, the feeling of helplessness as the spell wore off and the kami slipped free, and the way the

Steel too heavy, also lack access to forges, cannot fold or bend as easily. Bamboo and silk - despite discomfort caused by latter, material can be folded and transported easier. Lacquer necessary for strengthening of frame.

earth became sky, almost tearing apart the craft until it stopped and she thought she was alright then she realised her hand was at a strange angle. And she remembers the shock and the agony of seeing her master hanging

(the air kami took offence, and then took revenge)

from the ceiling, of the helplessness as she could not cut him down, and the way she shamed herself by throwing up and being able to do little but cry and scream for help. After both tragedies, Mirumoto bushi stood before her with swords drawn. Both times, she was close

(so close)

to asking for the blade.

Must fold, be light enough to carry by one. By self; alone.

Fire and Earth are her heritage. She is being re-forged, the broken blade strengthened with new steel. She was a pebble, she was a candle flame. Now, she is deep-mountain rock. Now, she is deep-red embers. The Approval of the Dragon boils in her chest. Fire and Earth. They will lift her out of despair.

It has been proven, after all, that heat rises. The Tobune was steel and wood and more, and it flew with the Approval of the Dragon and a few dreamers' efforts.

A less friendly opinion might consider her following in Kang's unsteady path; a dedicated student of his, even

(though he had few who wanted to be around him, and less who could understand him)

after his demise. Ohashi would not see that as an insult, regardless of the intent of that sentiment.

The only problem about her desire to soar again

Note: wings of various creatures - which is more feasible/efficient/can be designed and made easiest? Insect/bird/bat/other?

is that she does not have a direction. The foresight she used to keep her master safe seems to have died with him. Still, at this point, while she may not know where her path will take her, she knows that the first step is to build. And she is an engineer, after all. She knows how to build.

New method of flight needed for new craft; jerky movements of Tobune would be too dangerous on a smaller scale. A sitting position, perhaps? No, standing. Birds and insects and bats fly with their whole bodies, so new design must reflect that.

Weak as she was, and battered as she is, there is enough left of her for this. Even if she must build something completely different with the pieces she has left, utilising the force of the Earth and Fire in a new way.

Ohashi closes her eyes for a moment, ignoring the campfire

Fire kami are likely to get overzealous. Need to look into fire-proof materials and/or options.

and her hunger and the sound of the others conversing, so she can focus on the water kami who keep her company. Their presence is soothing, healing, familiar. She knows she will need them with her,

Can Water aid in flight, like Fire and Earth? Bears investigation. Fire and Earth provide the energy, and Water as the means to propel it? Water wheels, the gears of the Tobune made smaller, or a different means of propulsion? Aggressive and unpleasant for my friends? Then Water as a cooling mechanism, to keep the Fire from consuming the craft's mechanisms; bamboo tubing again a possibility.

and is glad even in her sadness and pain that they are proof that the kami have not deserted her.

But she is still angry. Angry at the air kami for having played a part in Kang's murder. Though her hunger for flight remains unchanged, she knows that she must find her own way to soar. She will find a means to put the Air beneath her; she will fly

(Everything, after all, returns to the earth. Birds must roost, insects must land, and even the winds must pass through the bamboo…)

Bamboo segments, perhaps, secured by rivets - segments can be replaced in pieces, rather than the whole, if damages should occur.

(…forests and become stillness)

without Air. She is also angry at the others - in a wearied, saddened fashion - in how she seems to be the only one who mourns

(can I truly be the only one who recognised his vision, his dreams, as genius?)

Kang's passing. And in both these angers, she is also angry at herself. She feels

(if I had been better, stronger, more capable, none of this would have happened)

responsible. But her grief is not one of soft sighs and indecision; her grief is earth and fire. Her grief is a new steel; her heart and spirit are being girded.

She is dreaming while awake

(I will honour my master. I will bring honour to your name, Master Kang.)

and these dreams are taking swift shape in her mind.

Everything Returns to Earth. Possibility of a spell? Observation of a new perspective

(You land, or you fall, or are humbled. But no matter how you are brought down, you take that chance to get to your feet and fly again)

as even birds must roost and spirits seek respite.

(and so should I. Kite-making, the original method of flight which first seized my attention, is the background and framework for this new invention. It will not be a Tobune, for that is my Master's work, but it will fly)

There will be no room in these schematics for the offensive gajiin pepper

(without any assistance from the air kami. Instead, the other three elements will be what I turn to.)

Three kinds of kami working in tandem. Difficult, but not impossible. If flight was 'impossible'

(then nothing after the Tobune should be beyond me)

then nothing is impossible for me. Making my own wings and flying to the heavens and beyond; it can be done. It will be done.

(It will be done.)

"It will be done."

Someone on the other side of the campfire looks over, and sees the zealous light in the Tamori's eyes as she stares at the rising embers. "Tamori-san? What are you thinking about?"

Ohashi looks over and gives her abashed smile, tracing her eyes on the ground. "Mn. Nandemonai." But she lifts her gaze soon afterwards, and she lightly clenches both hands - even the broken one - into fists.