Shattered Empire: In the Shadows of the Dragon Mountains

Chapter 3 - The Shadow Within

Dragon Civil War

The samurai of Tio Koku hear of the earthquake that rocked the capital, and send a procession of Dragon to help the city in its time of need, sending Kitsuki Suko as the lead.

The Kazaq visits the city and gains entry and permision to climb the Mountain, wishing to share his vision with Lady Hitomi, worrying that darkness lays ahead for the Dragon.

Otomo Banu arrives in Tio Koku, wishing to gain the Thunder Mirumoto Hitomi‘s blessing for his claiming of the throne. HE brings with him a host of followers from the Crane, the Mantis and the Phoenix. During this time of hosting Kitsuki Yasu’s word arrives about his concern and wishing to depart the Dragon Lands. Kitsuki Ryojiro however objects and asks for more time to climb the mountain and discover the truth. The governor then orders Agasha Nyokazu to bring all the crystal within the city and prepare his followers for the climb.

Under the pretense of visiting Still Water Temple, Hitomi Kobai assist the governor is taking his guests away while the samurai of Tio Koku travel to the Great Climb. Along the way they discover that any and all messengers are being detained by the Mitumoto guarding the pass, under orders of Hitomi Kokujin. The governor then dismisses all of the messengers and leads his followers up the mountain.

The climb is hellacious for the Dragon, who see darker aspects of their mind played out before them. The harrowing climb leaves many of them shaken and in a few cases resolved. However, as the climb ends, with Tonbo Suzume witnessing the death of the naga team and Kokujin tattooing the Kazaq, thus severing him from the communal network of the naga known as the Akasaha, making a vision of Suzume’s come that much clearer to her horror.

The party arrives finding that the darkness of the Lying Darkness is indeed closely knitted at the heart and mind of the Dragon in the High House of Light. The monks within have been altered and changed by Hitomi and the darkness seeks to break her will, although not as clear before, they realize that Kokujin has been assisting the Lying Darkness in this task. His latest action against the Naga, he claimed to have done so to make Hitomi’s visions come true and thus become a god. In a fight of insight given by the samurai of Tio Koku she casts Kokujin out. Seeking to banish the darkness from the great temple the party seeks to preform a ritual to sever the Obsidian Hand from Hitomi and place a hand of crystal upon her. Before she will undergo the ritual she plans on questioning a prisoner of the High House of Light, and wishes the samurais assistance.

They find buried deep within the ancient temple is a crystal prison that holds Shosuro the Thunder from the First Day of Thunder …. yes you heard right. That Shosuro. She apparently survived the First Day of Thunder with the Lying Darkness’s aid, and it extended her life and cursing her in the same breath, she is lost to the Nothing now, and as the samurai find out has been advising Hitomi.

Hitomi wishing to make use of the Obsidian Hand once more to force information out of Shosuro finds that the Nothing had infiltrated enough of her to use the hand to destroy the prison and release the captive, just as Shosuro announces that there are now three avatars of the Lying Darkness, and that Hitomi is the Avatar of Fear. The party is drawn into Hitomi’s nightmares as they relive her greatest fears, and begin a battle of the soul of their Champion and Thunder.

Although this cataclysmic battle went in their favor, it left Hitomi nearly destroyed. When they collected themselves, they realized that Kokujin had used the situation as a distraction and he stole the Ancestral Blades of the Dragon in the confusion. The smaurai cut the Obsidian Hand from their Champion and fused a crystal hand to Hitomi, saving her life and she promptly fell into a deep slumber.

While recovering from their traumatic experience, and while they waited for the Lady to revive, they found that roughly 1/3 of the order of the Hitomi seems to have disappeared, and it is believed that they join Kokujin, although some worry they joined The Lying Darkness.

Agasha Nyokazu feels a strange calling and yearning sensation that nearly causes him to climb out of a window from the tenth floor, and he cannot explain it at all. Shortly after they discover that Hitomi has awakened. She thanks her vassals for their aid, begins to make major changes for the Dragon. She knows that Kokujin’s actions have started a war with the Naga, and she tells the Kitsuki and Mirumoto to prepare for war. She tells the order to receive the banished Hoshi and Togashi after the war, and welcome them back into the fold. She needs time to recover and adjust to the brilliant crystal hand, knowing that much of her chi has been drained by the banishment of Lying Darkness’s direct influence form her soul, and explains she knows it is still within her, but the Crystal silences it and allows her to think and see more clearly. As such she gives a horrid and very vital task to Kitsuki Rokuro to purge the tainted Dragon from the land.

Bringing the good news down from the mountain, the samurai find that not all is well within the Dragon. Numbers of Dragon from all of the major families have gone missing, also Kokujin has sent about massive amounts of misinformation to cause the Dragon to be in disarray. Nyokazu lets slip that the Dragon have been shamed with Kokujin stealing the ancestral blades, and the information causes a major morale loss.

Arriving back within the city of Tio Koku, Otomo Banu senses things will not play out as he hopes, and before the Governor can oust his would be guest, news arrives of rising conflict with the Phoenix. Banu then excuses himself and heads back to the capital, wishing the Dragon luck.

With war on the way, Ikoma Kiobito offers aid to the city and arranges for a number of Lion forces to come aid the Dragon. The Dragon recall all of their armies, and array them in preparation for what is to come. While the Dragon of the city see to their tasks for what is to come, Tonbo Suzume instead goes to the Phoenix to discover why they are at war with the Dragon. Meanwhile Agasha Meiling tries to contact The Mara and find a way to end the war before it begins, the Mara is in tears but explains that the Naga are too angry to listen and they have blocked her pleas out. As such, the Mara has chosen to stand with the Dragon.

As the armies gather, political infighting becomes worse, and soon enough the Dragon are fighting with steel against one another, and it seems to be at the behest of the Lying Darkness. The Kitsuki Justicars are dispatched to end the feuds and root out the darkness under Rokuro’s guidance.

Suzume discovers that the Phoenix have accused the Dragon of killing Naka Kuro, and with the Grand Elemental Master’s death, they plan on avenging him, and cannot talk them out of going into war. Along her way home she takes cares to avoid the direct rout and instead goes north to the blossoming conflict with the Phoenix, and finds that Mirumoto Junnosuke is burning Phoenix Temples. Frustrated she turns to finding the Naka’s remains, and through the use of the Obsidian Mirror she discovers that the Naka knew he was being lured into his death, but wished to save his students lives. So he went willingly with what she discovers to be Shosuro and the Naka tries to kill her and preforms an impressive ritual to draw all of the minions of the Lying Darkness to him within the Pheonix and the Dragon (save perhaps for the strongest) and then he called down flame to purify himself and the Nothing and scour them from the world. Impressed and sad Suzume goes to find Mirumoto Daini hopping to end the conflict that way. When she find him on the way to the battle field, she finds he is with Agasha Tamori and she convinces the two of them to end the war with the Phoenix, however Kokujin appears and somehow controlled Tamori into awakening a volcano into awaking and nearly killing everyone in a storm of fire. Suzume was distracted in trying to stop Tamori, and only turned back in surprise to see that Kokujin had slain the Mirumoto lord, and then withdrew. Unable to face the tattooed traitor, she instead used all of her might to contain the flow of magma and saved the rest of the war unit however she falls unconscious. However, with Daini dead and Tamori seeming to have lost control of himself, the war party continues on to do it’s duty, unaware of the fact that they are being manipulated.

Meanwhile, the samurai of Tio Koku brace for the Naga attack, but find that the Naga did not use the bridge and instead swam the river. Prepping to move, they find the Lion led by Matsu Agetoki arrive and that Ikoma Tsanuri has gone to raze the Dragon Fly lands for ages long vengeance. Agetoki doesn’t seek to battle Tio Koku, but instead wishes to use their lands to attack the Phoenix for some slight. The Governor denies him, and the Lion forces split, as he leaves Koritome Toruko who seeks vengeance for Suzume’s betrayal, and not finding her decides to destroy her city. The samurai of Tio Koku then make war against the Lion, and in a display of fierceness both sides manage to only bloody each other’s noses, however Toruko is slain by Mirumoto Kinji, however a number of Lion Elite Spearmen capture Agasha Meiling. This leaves Matsu Ferishi in control, of the armies, and she uses Meiling as hostage to have her armies gain access to the Dragon lands, and allows Agetoki to slip by towards the Phoenix while Ferishi burns No Name City to the ground, destroying the ronin haven.

Agasha Nyokazu wishing to end the plight of Kitsuki Yasu’s son who had become a minion of the lying darkness, he goes to Kitsuki castle to find that the Order of Togashi and Hoshi have aligned with the Naga, and they are all caught in a horrible situation where Nyokazu is found to be tainted by the Lying Darkness. He then is offered a swift death, while the Naga burn and sac the Kitsuki Castle.

When Suzume recovers, she finds the Lion are in the pass with her. When she and the Dragon are discovered the Lion send Ikoma Kiobito to talk with her, and her brother Tonbo Sukari duels him to force the Lion to withdrawal. Due to his honor he cannot refuse, but due to his love for Suzume he will not draw his blade on her brother. Sukari cuts down Kiobito, who looks at Suzume with his loving smile one last time as he dyes and she can do nothing but watch her life gutter before her.

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