Shattered Empire: In the Shadows of the Dragon Mountains

Norikazu's Ravings
Norikazu's Ravings was a record of Isawa Norikazu prophecies, made in 1129


(These words were recorded by Naka Kuro, Tonbo Suzume, and Kitsuki Rokuro. Isawa Nozomi however, with her deep connection to the Void, sensed that the Celestial Dragons spoke though Isawa Norikazu in this final vision. If her words are to be believed, then, she has discovered two new Dragons, or two Dragons who have remained removed from humanity’s preview)

  • “The child born with the cunning of a scorpion and the wisdom of a dragon shall lead those who follow him into darkness, where they will be embraced with the fate that awaits us all.” – Dragon of Earth
  • “The voice of a dead man shall encourage those who strive for redemption to rise in a storm of steel and aggression once more. Three shall lead and two will fall, before the truest test shall arrive.” – Dragon of Fire
  • “Lost and dreamed of being no more, the forgotten shall be hunted from all sides and forced to flee into the shadows. In the shadows waits the culmination … of their damnation.” – Dragon of Water
  • “Duty and honor give way to indifference and contempt, and gives rise to ambition unchecked. The results shall lead to a sea of blood and agony that only the simplest of words can end.” – Dragon of Air
  • “The graceful shall watch one of their finest fall to a forgotten affair. They shall find the refuge offered to the harmonious, but at the cost of indifference to those about them. When at last they move, sorrow and death will follow swiftly.” – Dragon of the Void
  • “As darkness consumes those who lost all, a small pack lingers on. Although lost for a time, a wolf appears with the eyes of the dead, and their howl shall be defiant into the darkness.” – Dragon of Thunder
  • “Longing leads to aspiration, aspiration becomes passion, passion evolves into obsession. Only bloodshed, hollow words, and impotence awaits the ignoble. All shall seek the unworthy, all show bow before him, but his words are just wind, and will sow death and chaos.” – The Celestial Dragon
  • “Two giants will rise. One giant will be filled with the arrogance against the heavens and believe it knows what is best for all. The second giant will rise to block the other’s way, filled with indignation of the other’s overreaching, however it is just as sinful … avenging every slight real and imagined against it.” – Unknown Dragon, but a dark force was sensed here.
  • “Alone, isolated, understanding what lurks in darkness, their pleas for help, peace and hope shall fall upon deaf ears. Too late they will know what must be done, for that —which takes shall be waiting for them.” – Unknown Dragon, but a pure force was sensed here.
  • “The future is not certain. We change it with every breath we take. The future is not a still lake, even the smallest ripples change everything. Remember this when nothing comes.” – Norikazu’s own words.
Venture to Toi Koku

Everyone gained 5xp.

It is Early Spring of 1129.

Kitsuki Furui summons Hoshi Ryojiro and his staff to his offices to receive their orders and traveling papers.

Just outside of the offices in Shiro Kitsuki, the officers meet each other for the first time. Tonbo Suzume arrives with her kid brother Tonbo Naoki first. Mirumoto Kinji the young sensei is next, followed by Isawa Nozomi and her silent guardian Zurui Hissori. Lastly, Agasha Nyokazu arrives on the scene. The group is able to start some formalities just before they are drawn into Furui’s offices.

There, the elderly Kitsuki informs them in part of the chaos of his provenance. Bandits have stilen the gold from the reserves, it must be recovered and hidden from the ambassadors before they arrive in early fall. Shrines were ruined and razed during the wars, and many of its left overs are feared to remain hidden in the slopes of the provenance. He says that soon the Family heads and Togashi Hoshi will tour the Dragon Lands, he wishes his provenance as well maintained as possible. He then dismisses his subordinates to see to their tasks.

The group then makes the three day journey to Toi Koku, arriving late in the night. They discover the temple’s construction was halted with only a frame left, and the Dragon Keep remains barely cleaned after the deaths within. Ryojiro takes the his staff to dinner at the boarding house and get a small ear on the gossip along with dinner. Everyone breaks up for the evening, exploring the town and getting a lay of the land.

Ryojiro goes for a walk to look at his city and finds the former sensei preparing to burn all of the equipment of his former dojo. The two talk of clean slates and Ryojiro retires for the evening.

Suzume and Nozomi relax in the hot springs and wash away the road before retiring.

Kinji and Nyokazu go to the keep to make sure spirits of the dead do not linger. Once they are sure the keep sleeps soundly, Kinji goes to see his dojo to find the old master moving his bed to the pile and helps him burn everything, then the old master tells him to take his first step with no complications of the past.

Nyokazu in the meantime awakens the spirit of the foundation of the New Keep. It was grumpy for awaking so early, but it had slept through the horrors of the attack. Nyokazu then started pull up the wood with the blood stains on it.

In the morning the group met with the town magistrate Kitsuki Uso who explained the attack on the New Dragon Keep occurred in the dead of winter. All the diasho were taken, along with 300 lbs of gold and iron. Also the hearts of the dead were taken. Uso believes that 25 or so individuals attacked, the fighting was limited to the attackers going after the sleeping and the lightly defended keep. They wore no shoes and took all evidence of who they were with them.

The magistrate also said the town has been in a state of limbo since the attack and winter. He explained that there are three magistrates in the area, one travels, one is at the boarder and then he over sees the town.

He knows that bandits have been an issue in the area (obviously), the monistaries have been all destroyed, some towns have started turning their allegiance to the Ronin rather then the Dragon. The lands need to be sorted out.

After that, the group then broke apart to start to see what they had to work with and get set up.

Ryojiro began to reveiw all the documents of the city and prepare for a speech for the city.

Nyokazu aids the Eta and the carpentersm’s family in the repairs to the keep. He then blesses the keep and spends time looking at the city’s oldest structures and seeing where improvements and repairs can be made.

Suzume moves her offices to the Old Keep to prepare her courts. Her brother manages to muck up her court chambers with mud while chasing a frog.

Nozomi looks at her temple, half constructed and starts to make plans to finish its rebuilding. She takes a pile of the local shop owners and decides to keep the temple’s focus on the Fortunes of Rice and Wealth.

Kinji then starts to build his dojo again, his workers set with goals. He realizes he will need to appeal to the local lords and perhaps some distant ones to get students.

Later that evening the Governor stands before his people and gives them a stirring speech which leaves the people’s doubts of the Dragon set aside. Suzume Notices the boarding house lady exchange glances of concern with a man she didn’t recognize and a fat looking merchant. She informed Jitsuna who said he would look into it.

The evening passed with some choosing to stay in the Keep rather then the boarding house, and in the morning Ryojiro wanted to meet the shop owners personally in his court.

As the morning meeting approached, they saw a Mirumoto rider come into town and look around and then ride away the way he came. Everyone then got a bit on edge, and they saw roughly 100 Bushi of the Mirumoto marching into the city. The Dragon troops took up position all over the keep and their commander Mirumoto Yoku came into the keeps yard.

He had come to aid in retaking the provenance and reestablish order. He made it clear that he had little respect for the Kitsuki and would show the Dragon that the Mirumoto could bring better prosperity to the region. He offered a few insults and pressed Ryojiro, probing him to see his limits until Ryojiro finally said enough. Yoku then retired to the old keep, his men spreading about the town, to help keep order and protect the town.

The Governor and staff then began to plot their next actions before meeting with the shop and land owners.

Dragon's Glory and Drug Rings

Everyone gained 4xp, xp count of 9.

The Samurai of Toi Koku managed to to meet with their merchants, and Kitsuki Rokuro caught on to the trio business owners may be using threats to keep everyone quite about that they are doing. Governor Hoshi Ryojiro began to open a hand of respect to Mirumoto Yoku and tensions eased between them. Offering to meet for sake in the evening.

Rokuro and Tonbo Suzume investigated merchants and their attention was drawn to Magistrate Kitsuki Uso who they believe must have known about these merchants. They found out that a brothel is active in the boarding house, a gamblers den just behind the sake house, and next to that was an opium flop house was being run by the emporium. Suzume confronted the magistrate in his wealthy home, who denied it, but said he would look into the matters. When Rokuro was moments away from perhaps gaining a more lawful entry to the opium area and getting some much needed info, Uso arrived to the flop house first and cut down the drug dealer. Muddying waters further. At last Ryojiro set loose Jitsuna to get to the bottom of issues here.

Agasha Nyokazu began exploring the land, looking at unfinished projects and trying to sense as much of the local kami. He have been gathering peasants with artistic talent to aid him in his projects and delve deeper into the intentions of the previous crafters of the city.

The Warlord Agasha Meiling arrived, and took up the defense of the city, with only minor insults from Yoku, but done so swiftly so she might assume her position.

Isawa Nozomi aided the lowers casts, by promising the Eta a place of worship, and helping the farmers with preforming a ritual to waken kami in their fields for another year. She later draws Nyokazu and Suzume to aid her.

Young Master Mirumoto Kinji realizes he must go to the High House of Light to ask for students. He makes preparations for this. But realizes that he may have to go much sooner, for Yoku has cut off the roads leading east, catching wind of letters bound for Shiro Kitsuki.

At the sake meeting, Yoku asks Ryojiro to join him in conquest. He wants Ryojiro to back him in a bid to take these lands from the Kitsuki and put them back in Mirumoto control. The Governor turns him down, but does promise to aid him in his task so that he may leave faster. Yoku tosses the letters, unopened, to the Governor saying he wants more time alone with out Shiro Kitsuki aware.

Yoku sends out his bushi in all directions, keeping his core here, to find information about the Provenance come morning.

By morning the Emporium owner is arrested, his shop tossed and a ledger showing that he was getting illegal opium from Journey’s End City (the City of Lies), in the heart of the former Scorpion Lands. They also find that he made a 100 koku donation to the city, collected by Uso himself, shortly after the former Governor died.

Shaping the Land and Purging of Great Falls Mine

Everyone gained 5xp, xp count of 14.

Kanningu, the Opium Importer and Emporium owner, confessed to his crimes come the morning. Given the extreme violations of the laws and the Emperor’s Laws he is rotting in a cell for the time being as Governor Hoshi Ryojiro chooses what next to do with him.

Mirumoto Yoku’s followers all depart headed in various directions, while Yoku awaits word of what they find.

Ryojiro however still suspects that Magistrate Kitsuki Uso was involed somehow, and given the 100 koku that was made in a donation of the city, he offers Kitsuki Rokuro a promotion as Treasurer of the village. The Kitsuki accepts it, and gathers up the finds form the Magistrate, and investigates the funds usage. Much to Ryojiro’s frustration all seems in order.

Meanwhile, Agasha Nyokazu and Isawa Nozomi embark on a mystical quest of learnign about the spirits of the surrounding lands as they try and help with the coming harvests by expanding the rice fields in the North West. They had found that there are three suitable planes to channel the land, the upper and lower shelf both have Earth spirits capable, just merely slumbering or half awake. The middle shelf was a frost spirit, making permafrost of the shelf. The two shugenja’s then preformed a right to speak with the cold spirit and became involved in kami politics that was set in place sometime before man. While involving the Governor in their plans, they convince the frost spirit to move near the Dragon Keep and the spirit of Earth near the keep to shift places, each spirit convinced they are getting the better deal. The transfer will take a week or so, as the earth trembles under foot, and the villagers are assured that everything is fine. They pray often and look worried anyhow.

Nozomi sent a runner up to Three Stone to check on a stone mason who would like to relocate, and the runner’s goal is to make it to Silver Crow Mines.

Tonbo Suzume and Mirumoto Kinji begin on a quest to discover the location of the stolen gold. They talk with one of the nuggets left behind, and ask it if it can help. Given how friendly and polite they were, it suggest them asking Water from the snow of winter if it saw anything. Since Spring has come, they know snow from winter will be in the higher mountains, so they prepare to head deeper into the Provenance. The Warlord Agasha Meiling joins them, taking two of her men for protection.

The small group journeys for two days, on the evening before they arrive to the mountains, Suzume casts her eyes to the future. She has a disturbing view of worms, roiling in blood soaked earth, spreading out, further and further and further. Concerned she suggests they be on their guard moving forward, fearing a spreading corruption is at hand.

They arrive at the town of Great Falls Mine, learning that no Samurai live within the town, and that it seems to be under siege from inside the mine. The earth trembles often, and the towns folks are out in great numbers with their peasant weapons. They learn that a number of the minors were ashugaru during the Clan Wars, so they are skilled. They have been fending off an infestation of Goblins who seem to have taken refuge in the mines during winter. Upon inspection of the bodies of some of the goblins who tried to rush the barricades recently, they see they have the Mon of The Shadowlands, so they are most likely from Yogo Junzo’s shattered forces. Suzume speaks with Earth, who explains it trembles because of the ‘earth spirit,’ and it will try to not cave in the shaft for her sake.

Suzume sent a message back to Ryojiro to warn him of their exploits. He sent Yoku out with his men as back up. Using the diversion to send out the letters he had originally intended.


The five samurai go down into the oldest shaft, being guided by the trembling earth. They navigate through the web choked tunnels, finding cave ins cleared, signs of dead and eaten rodents. The unit finds five goblins lead by a larger leader talking among themselves in a large chamber, they spread out in a battle formation, in their half made samurai armor. The leader begins to demand that he and his goblins be allowed to leave in peace, that they have no more stomach for these tunnels, when Suzume takes such insult that she levels Jade Strike at the leader and his right hand man and kills them instantly. The Brushi then jump in and engage the three remaining goblins. The battle is quick and because of Suzume’s intervention it becomes very one sided.

A few moments later a small reptilian creature with an ancient looking staff that seems to be made of living wood walks into the room, and the earth raises up to meet him as he walks. It bows, and it is recognized as a Zokujin. It introduced itself as Kjgktch, and that it had spent the winter pushing out shadowlands forces where it found them. It had purged out some ogres and was trying to help these goblins move along. It spoke of the ogres with sadness and missed the brave ogres of old, the heroes of Rokugan, but blamed the nezumi for their fall. It then dismissed its old thoughts, and gave them its blessing before it departed, wishing to go to his warm volcano and out of the cold.

Coming out of the mines, and proclaiming the area saved, the miners rejoiced, and give the samurai what little food they had to offer calling them heroes. Later that night Suzume found snow from winter and asked Water what it knew. Fortunately, Winter places the lands of the Dragon deep within Water’s knowledge, and it saw the invaders, a group of some 30 Yobanjin raiders deep in the Great Falls. They had the gold, the missing blades, and a number of strange weapons. All of them had burns on themselves that they wore like badges of honor, and their leader had a sake stained brown red with blood at his hip.

As the group descended, towards Toi Koku Yoku found them. Suzume informed him where the gold was. Yoku took them back to gather his forces.

As the week passed, the trembling of Toi Koku subsided. The carpenters finished their work on the keep, and tore down the opium den, making a new stone mason’s home. A stone mason arrived from Three Stones, and with the aid of the carpenters began to build the temple, suggesting it will take two months to be complete.

Yoku’s men started to return from their ranging, and brought back tails of unrest and bandits. To the south, bandits ambush travelers. Yoku lost 8 men but took down twice as many bandits. To the east, the lands are calm and peaceful. To the south east, the lands are filled with upstart ronin and the peasants seem to think of them as their lords now. The group that went north did not come back, but Yoku says he will collect them as he heads that way to fight the Yobanjin and will return as heroes. Then departed Toi Koku with all his men.

Kitsuki Furui wrote back, furious with Yoku-sans actions, and wants him gone immediately. He has involved Kitsuki Yasu who is threatening a marshalling of the Kitsuki form Great Falls Castle to force Yoku back into Murimoto territory.

As the events unfold, and everyone draws back together, Suzume worries over that vision she had. The issues with the goblin were not spreading corruption, it was in fact a situation that was ebbing and perhaps would had worked itself out in a matter of days even without their intervention. She looks to the coming future with apprehension.

New Ally and the Skinless Togashi

Everyone gained 4xp, xp count of 18.

Bayushi Kenzo arrives in the Dragon Lands, stopping at Boarder Check Point Station, and realizes something is not what it seems. The Dragon Magistrate seems to be in liege with the local ronin and he assumes they are all working together, asking for protection money from travelers who use the road. Kenzo pays the fee, and travels the road to Toi Koku, but comes to realize that the bandits are perhaps former Scorpion.

Mean while, Hoshi Ryojiro says good bye to Mirumoto Yoku and his men, letting the Mirumoto he had best leave as soon as his task is over to avoid the wrath of Kitsuki Yasu and Kitsuki Furui. Yoku says he will return in victory and depart, saying “You may one day wish you had allied with me. I shall return in less then a moon’s turn.” The hands off a gift of his military reports from his men’s quick survey of the lands, and with that, he has gone.

The Governor then read Yoku’s military reports, and discover: Bare Foot Village seems to be in good order, Great Fall Mines has resumed its duty, that the body of a dead monk was found in High Slope Farms, [[Ronin’s Way | Ronin’s Way]] seems to have a number of ronin who will not abandon the village, and that a team passing through Gentle Slope Farms was savaged by bandits killing 8 of Yoku’s men and wounding 10 more as their destination was Boarder Check Point Station but never made it, and lastly Yoku’s men who went north have gone missing. He and Agasha Meiling prioritize that the bandits to the south must be dealt with, and wants Kitsuki Uso to look into the death of the monk.

Tonbo Suzume conspires to gussy up her court and thus have every important samurai get new kimonos. She works out a deal with the seamstress, and starts arranging everyone to go get sized. She has the seamstress use the Mantis Spice merchant to get the best silk. Kitsuki Rokuro gets drawn into this, as he is the treasurer, and realizes he might need more money to help deal with the growing list of demands of this make over. Rokuro sets about drawing the Stone Mason into his web of businesses.

Isawa Nozomi is approached by a visiting pair of Dragon and Phoenix (Asako Miruko and Agasha Tsuru) who have taken it upon themselves to wander the land collecting lost knowledge and lores. She makes a plea for the books to be left in her care, but Miruko realizes who Nozomi is and her ancestor and pettily insults her. Nozomi tells the truth of her grandmother’s dishonorable action, loosing the Toa of Shinsei, and Tsuru politely says it is time to move on. Isawa Unshina then wails at her grand daughter, but is rebuked and the spirit departs for a time.

Agasha Nyokazu worked most of the day in the field, then spent his time working with Suzume aiding in the recovery of Yoku’s injured men. They learn the bandits employ poison.

Mirumoto Kinji mostly spends time aiding others and preparing for the weekly courtly gathering, and makes some simple and delicious snacks for everyone.

Kenzo arrives, and through his father’s letter offers his skills and services to Ryojiro. The Governor accepts him into his service and lets him make use of the Scorpion Embassy.

Tonbo Naoki spills his ink in a massive way and ruins his sisters desk in turn. He runs to the baths, gets clean and then wants to go to his bed for the rest of the day. Unable to ask more about it, Suzume lets him go.

The arrival of Kyfu, a wandering tea merchant comes peddling his wears, exchanging advise and stories with Kinji, Suzume, Uso and Kenzo. The tea is a plumb based one and invigorates them all.

The courtly tea meeting goes well, and everyone is talking of their duties and the hardships that the Sinjutsu Province. Talks determine that Ryojiro wishes to take everyone and head south to rout the bandits, who they believe are the Knives of Yugoro. They heard that a bandit group called perhaps “The Honored Fang” disappeared a during the winter. Knowing that the Knives of Yugoro are poison users, Nyokazu offers to make antidotes, and knows they will take time to make. Uso offers while waiting some aid in investigating up north the death of the monk, most agree to go, and that will give Nyokazu time to make his poison remedies.

Kenzo sends his two aids south, with a message for Yugoro and his men, letting them come out of the cold in the name of service once more. He knows he is racing against time, but feels obligated to make the offer.

Kinji aids Nyokazu by hunting down herbs on his list.

Meiling works with Yoku’s uninjured men, led by Agasha Akogi, helping to train her bushi. The veterans give the untested bushi a number of pointers, and the tension that Yoku had brought dissipates some.

Nyokazu, Suzume and Nozomi work their will upon the land of the northern fields, and start shifting the broad shelves for the production of rice. They make massive head way, and the farmers of the fields stare in awe.

The following morning, all but the shugenja go north to investigate the death of the monk. It turns out not to be a brotherhood monk, much like Ryojiro had suspected, but that of a Togashi. He was skinned, his blood drained and hung by his feet from a tree. The man was left hanging for the Kitsuki. The group learns that the Tattooed man was traveling through the area, when he took to camp outside. Some saw a second tattooed man, but thought nothing of it. The next day they found this. Rokuro made the grizzly discovery of the monk’s former skin, and with the aid of eta found that it lacked any mystic tattoos. This led everyone to believe that Togashi Okkio, Ise Zumi Hunter was at work once more.

Meanwhile the three shugenja did yet more of the impossible, this time the whole of the community coming to watch. Everyone was in awe and bowed deeply before the samurai in praise. Nyokazu reforged a ho that was broken by a farmer who was in shock and looked at his useless tool with disgust.

Suzume finally gets a chance to talk to the bath house attendant, and wishes to make sure that Naoki’s out burst wasn’t too over the top. She learns form the old man her brother had some sort of waking nightmare, and saw his mother. He became startled and spilled the ink. She grows concerned that something from her past now stalks her brother.

The Knives of Yugoro
Gentle Slope Farms to the Boarder Check Station

Everyone gained 5xp, xp count of 23.

Hoshi Ryojiro decides to lead a group of his fellow samurai south to investigate and deal with the tales of bandits along the southern road that passes through Gentle Slope Farms to Boarder Check Point Station.

Ryojiro leaves behind Agasha Meiling and Kitsuki Rokuro to watch over Toi Koku. Bayushi Kenzo says that as a courtier his skills will not be so useful, so he remains behind to focus on seeing to the rebuilding of his Clan’s long over looked Embassy.

Ryojiro leads half of the archers and light infantry that serve under Meiling, leaving the tactics to be dictated by Nikutai Mirumoto Suka. Protecting the Governor is Agasha Nyokazu, Isawa Nozomi, Mirumoto Kinji and Tonbo Suzume.

The group makes their way south, and runs into a group of Ronin from the ronin town of Nanashi Mura. A bright young man named Toku leads them, and seems to lead a faction of ronin named The Legion of the Wolf. Along with him is the famed yojimbo Mikio, Dairya the famed duelist, and Kiriai who is an unknown. Toku explains that they are there to hunt down bandits worried that their ranks are filled with former ronin, and Ryojiro decides to work with the ronin.

Along the journey the two groups comes to know one another. Toku is a cheerful man with a bright disposition and speaks fondly of Bushido, getting along with most everyone. Ryojiro and he bond over some aspects of leadership, and he goes on to explain that his ronin are within [[Ronin’s Way | Ronin’s Way]], taken to protect the city from a sudden appearance of ogres that wield swords and armor, as well as strike alliances with bandits. The ronin have dealt with the bandits outside of Ronin’s Way, but the ogres have sent their weakest to make a pact with the Knives of Yugoro. The governor and Toku hope that by acting together it will mean that they will be good neighbors.

Mikio sees the the young Dragonfly working hard at her letters, and Suzume and he bond over courtly duties. She discovers that he used to be Crane and left them for the honor of body guarding Toturi during his disgrace, and that he doesn’t see being a ronin as plight but a great honor. He tells her of where to write to the Crane to save her some trouble in speaking to the right persons for her task.

Dairya approaches Kinji, wishing to see his stance. The two measure the skill of the other, with it being clear that Dairya is the better man. Dairya does express that in time he sees the greatness that could become Kinji. Dairya tells the young man that the best duelist in the Empire took his eye when he was a younger man, and that he has been humbled and redeemed himself since then and is fine being the second best duelist in the Empire.

During this exchange, Nozomi realizes that Dairya is the former Phoenix and was once destined to become a Master of Fire, but he was disgraced and accused of murdering his mother, and thus he was cursed as his magic and ability to speak with the Kami was stolen from him. She wrestles with wishing to reach out to him, but knows to do so may insult the man.

Kinji recognizes the symbols on Kiriai’s blades and asks him why he carries a Dragon’s blades. The man stiffly explains that he was a coward in his youth, and did not do enough to save a gold cart from bandits that was destined from Toi Koku. He has since redeemed himself, but he worries that he has once again not done enough. His son Giretsu has joined the Knives of Yugoro, and he must go to confront his son and either convince him to turn aside his path of strike him down as a traitor. Kinji offers to aid the man, and leaves him to prepare for what he might be forced to do.

On the second day, the group is ambushed by a number of archers who manage to flank them. Fortunately Suzume summoned up enough wind to aid in deflecting enough of the arrows to allow the rest of the group to strike back at the bandits. Nyokazu’s foresight and anti venom allow the group to survive from the poison, and he uses the magic of thunder to smote a very unlucky bandit. Nozomi manages to disrupt a poor bandit as his courage breaks. Ryojiro and Kinji rush either line of archers and as the bandits run. Between their actions and the ronin, they capture four bandits while half of their number are dead or fled.

The bandits confess to being followers of Yugoro, and that times are becoming hard, and they should had fled with the five best of the bandits who just deserted. However the alliance with the Thunder of the Mountain made them feel they could survive anything. They tell the group that Yugoro killed Kitsuki Heki, and has been masquerading as the magistrate. Two of the bandits chose to die, one by the govern’s blade another to redeem himself committed seppuku, while the last two offered up their sword hands to still live. They headed to Dragonfly lands to perhaps become monks.

The group then went to stay at a farmer’s house to rest and stay off the road. There everyone recovered, and the farmer was questioned about the bandits, but he said none had harassed him of his neighbors. Ryojiro took none of the man’s food as to not over burden the simple farmer and his men ate their rations. Suzume left the farmer a paper dragon as a gift for giving up his home and food so readily. Nyokazu realized that many of the fields were were not awakened yet, and made a note to come back later. Nozomi blessed his fields before they left.

At boarder check station Nikutai Suka but the line into battle formation, and gave his pragmatic view of how to fight this battle, suggesting to burn down the inn. Kinji rebuked the man, and Ryojiro chose to not be overly aggressive and instead wait for the bandits to make the first move.

The forces assembled and marched to meet the bandits, stopping when they saw a man come out of the guard tower. It was a single man in a crimson armor, with a mon of two knives where once a clan mon of the scorpion must have rested. The governor made his way to speak with the man, along with his ambassador and master sensei. The stranger pronounced himself as Yugoro demanding that the Dragon withdraw form his lands. The ambassador tried to reason with him, but war it seems is all he wanted, as the man felt he had the upper hand. Ryojiro tried to talk the man from madness explaining he had the bigger force and the armies of the Dragon would dive him away. Yet Yugoro seemed as sure of himself as he was a moment ago, and asked to settle the matter in a duel. Kinji was given permission to duel the man, and the two took their stances.

Kinji saw the man was arrogant, over confident and driven but what skill he had was nothing compared to his master’s training. Just before he struck, the army found it was under assault form a surprise attack as the fields around them were suddenly killed with a battle cry of ambushes, and a huge ogre raced down on top of them. Yugoro it appears thought he could distract the leadership with a duel, while his forces moved in and caught the surprised group.

The two forces fell into war with each other. Nozomi and Suzume fall back to the wagon, using their magic to hold the the center of the Dragon forces, sustaining heavy wounds. Ryojiro saves the Nikutai he is is overwhelmed by enemy ambushers, and manages to use his prowess to each of them with a single strike of his fists. As the fog of war parts before Nyokazu, he clearly sees the ogre who seems to be leading the assault, and lands a well placed shot of a Jade Strike to the corrupted creature’s eye before the battle blocks his view once more. Toku and Mikio rush the enemy archer’s slaughtering them. Kiriai find another smaurai in the field of battle, the two stare at each other, the two draw their blades and Kiriai slays the other man, with tears in his eyes. Kinji feels robbed, for Yugoro is so focused on his military conquest that he barely pays attention to the boy before him and Kinji has a perfect draw and kills the bandit leader in a single quick movement with his blade thorough the other’s eye. The battle is a rout for the bandits, their numbers slain to nearly a man, and it battle truly ends when Dairya duels the ogre, and kills him in two swift cuts.

In the aftermath, Ryojiro asks the ronin to over see the boarder check until the Dragon can send someone to replace the fallen magistrate. He leaves Nikutai Suka to over see this, and promotes the injured man to Gunso. The group returns to Toi Koku, for two weeks nothing happens, allowing the group to grow and catch its breath as the group is readying to head to Still Water Temple.

The Poisoning at Still Water Temple
Still Water Temple and the Void Dragon

Everyone gained 4xp, xp count of 27.

The Samurai of Toi Koku spend two weeks locked in their own duties and seeing to their tasks with diligence. Agasha Nyokazu, Isawa Nozomi and Tonbo Suzume finish their mystical works on the fields. Exhausted and triumphant, the trio set the village into a celebration as the first of the water streams to its new destination, the world crawls to a stand still as the Dragon of Void appears along with Isawa Kaede (Master of the Void). The Dragon does not speak, using Kaede to issue forth it’s voice, clearly she has become the Oracle of the Void. Void has noticed their striving with the elements and been touched by their dedication to make the world a better place.

As such, it gives the three tasks, Nyokazu is given the Talon of the Void Dragon, a magnificent katana, and is told the blade is not his to wield and in time will know who the blade is destined to, however he should study the blade and try to reforge it, for it will help him unlock the riddle of steel within his soul.

Suzume is handed a package and told that within is an object that would let her see anywhere she has been, and if used right will show her the past. However, using the object too much can steal away her honor for such powers are not to be mortal mans. She is to guard it until it is time for it’s use. She opens it later to find the Obsidian Mirror.

Nozomi is favored by the Dragon and it pulls one of it’s own teeth out, and gives it to her. She can snap it at anytime, and regardless of the distance shall be able to commune with Void who can intercede or bestow it’s blessing if its favors what is being ask of it that one time.

It then departs suggesting that the Celestial Dragon’s time in the realm of man is coming to an end, at least for a time and that it is almost the Age of Man.

The three then find time slips back into place and they are in the middle of the town’s celebration with their new gifts.

Governor Hoshi Ryojiro sends a letter to Kitsuki Furui, but finds his suggestions and asking for power man power is turned down in deference of the older man’s injured pride. Agasha Akogi (one of Mirumoto Yoku’s followers) offers to go to [[Ronin’s Way | Ronin’s Way]] to support the populace and Ronin in his stead to repay their kindness in healing the smaller unit.

Bayushi Kenzo spruces up his family’s estate and gathers a number of house hold attendants, making the place his own.

Agasha Meiling focuses on training her men, and getting her five new bushi into working order.

Kitsuki Rokuro gets his businesses into order, and begins to invest into the town to help rebuild its structure, making it a better place for others to visit.

Mirumoto Kinji finds a set back as his dojo seems to be vandalized by trickster spirits who burn and destroy his whole month’s progress. It would seem a bird and a horse did this, based on the tracks left behind. Many of the towns folk think he may be just as crazy as the last sensei.

Suzume gathers together Kenzo, Nyokazu and Rokuro to aid her in writing letters, a very time consuming issue to be sure.

A few rumors drift into the town, Naga have swarmed at the Crab Wall helping them prepare for a fight against ‘the fowl.’ Some sounds of Crane making a fuss at the Boarder Check Point Station come in. Mystics claim that the Celestial Dragons are withdrawing from the mortal realms.

Just before they were planning to leave, the town is visited by Shiba Tsukune and Naka Kuro who are traveling to Still Water Temple along with a retinue of students and another teacher, the seer Isawa Norikazu. The two samuria groups get along very well, however at dinner Norikazu becomes struck with a fever that quickly becomes the path to his final prophecy known as Norikazu’s Ravings. He succumbs to the fever shortly after the Celestial Dragon’s issue their final guidance. It is thought the Elemental Dragons withdraw from the realm of mortals.

The Phoenix spend an extra day behind with the Samurai of Toi Koku and see to Norikazu’s funeral, and to make copies of these prophecies. The group then joins with the Phoenix and journeys to the heart of the Dragonfly Lands.

Arriving at the Temple everyone is drawn in many directions:

Ryojiro and Meiling try and gather support for the town and undo some blemishes on their region’s name. They are both met with positive e results, as they meet with the upper echelons of the Dragon Clan. They both impart advice and ask to undertake more responsibilities in the name of their Clan.

Suzume, Kenzo and Rokuro all jump into the Imperial Court, and considered to see the Akodo returned to their rightful place, as well as spin their own effects into place. Each of them are met with some great success, as Suzume advises her parent Clan to not sit still. Kenzo presses hard for the Lion to have their name restored so that the Scorpion can press that issue. Rokuro spread rumors of bullying Unicorn to get their attention, which causes effects later.

Suzume also meets with her Lord Tonbo Toryu and tells him a bit of the Lying Darkness, and promises to send him more word after he reviews the Ravings. She also sees Kitsuki Yasu’s reactions to the final phrase and knows that he is aware of The Nothing.

Kinji and Nozomi go to the Temple’s networking and assisting with the rebuilding. This gains them some allies among the Brotehrhood and ronin Shugenja. Nozomi reaches out to the peasant magicians knowing that the proud Phoenix have turned their back on them.

The Great and Minor Clans are currently locked in a tense struggle for power, while the Emerald Champion attempts to keep the peace, mostly through keeping things as they are. An effect that a number of Clans find very frustrating. As the court wanes on, questions of a Crane raid in Dragon Clan Lands causes Kakita Icharo to set forth a very dramatic staging as Dairya is brought forth. The ronin is accused to be a murder of a Crane, which he denies, and the son of the Emerald Champion uses his father’s words to force him into a duel with Dairya.

As the tension rises, Kakita Toshimoko (the Emerald Champion) looks more and more ill. When the duel occurs, Toshimoko’s hands are clumsy, and Dairya gives him a powerful strike, which almost claims the senior’s life. Suzume and Nyokazu rush to the fallen Champion’s side and save him from the poisoning, as his mouth froths with green foam. Icharo accuses Dairya of poisoning his gather and calls for his execution, however brave little Suzume challenges him boldly and shut’s the Crane down mid command. Ryojiro sensing chaos may lead to insanity, immediately steps forward and takes command ordering everyone away. Taking his cue the Champions restrain their Clans and have everyone withdraw for the day.

As the evening comes to a close, Nyokazu tends to the fallen Champion under the watchful gaze of Agasha Tamori.

Ryojiro and Meiling advise Togashi Hoshi to accept the Lion and the Mantis. The Dragon Clan Champion looks ill at ease and confesses that he lacks the vision of his father and his every instinct says do nothing and wait. He decides to meditate on the issue.

Suzume had dinner with Shinjo Yokatsu, who heard rumor’s his Clan was being unreasonable with the Dragon. He pledges to send his ambassador to Toi Koku, in return he expects the town to accept a magistrate in their town to act on the Emerald Champion’s behalf. Suzume deflects this agreement into Ryojiro’s realm.

Meanwhile Dairya, Kinji and Rokuro team up with Bayushi Yojiro to figure out who poisoned the Emerald Champion, as they believe Dairya is innocent of those charges.

Fall of the Emerald Champion
Rise of the Abbot

Everyone gained 5xp, xp count of 32.

Kitsuki Yasu calls upon Kitsuki Rokuro to aid him in reviewing documents from Kitsuki Furui. This will draw him away for some time, as Yasu discovers that Furui is altering documents to make himself look better. Yasu charges Rokuro to review every document that the Governor has writen and over seen since the year before the Clan War on.

Mirumoto Daini and Kitsuki Yasu hear of skirmishes along their respective boarders as the issue of Mirumoto Yoku‘s actions have been fanned by Furui’s outrage. In response they send Agasha Meiling along with a number of mixed samurai from all of the Dragon Clan (retainers at Still Water Temple who had arrived as escort to the daimyos, is sent to quell the infighting. She shall be away for a time to secure peace and end the quarreling.

Governor Hoshi Ryojiro spends the new day trying to strengthen ties between Toi Koku and the Crane and Lion Clans. Given the difficulties with the interference with the duel, the Crane dismiss Ryojiro politely, but firmly. The Lion however are more receptive and listen to the Hoshi’s offer of trade.

Isawa Nozomispends time trying to figure out if anyone has found the missing Toa, but is only met with frustration. She instead turns her efforts to increase a stronger relationship with the Minor Clans, mainly spending time with Moshi Wakiza.

Bayushi Kenzo gets a rare chance to meet with the new Scorpion Champion, in a ‘face to face’ dinner. He talks of a possible alliance with the Mantis, but wants Kenzo’s thoughts on the matter and for him to investigate fully into the issue. He also gets to witness the Ancestral Sword of the Scorpion returned to the Champion, as Bayushi Yojiro had been holding onto the blade since the Scorpion Clan Coup. Yojiro is told he is a hero.

Tonbo Suzume attends to meeting after meeting, speaking with layers of dignitaries, and a few of the Minor Clan Champions themselves. Most wish to know more about Governor Ryojiro, as no one is clear what the Hoshi family is like. Beyond the normal conversations, Suzume smooths over issues with Yoritomo, and accepting his ‘gift’ of the minor Clans and allowing him to build within Toi Koku. The Badger Clan Champion Ichiro Kihongo who is poor in terms of rice, offers to be hired by the Dragon to have his men guard caravans of rice or gold in return for Dragon Steel and gold. Finally she convinces Kitsune Ryosei, the Fox Clan Champion and a Representative of the Wasp Clan to give their over abundance of rice to the Lion Clan so that their numbers do not starve.

Suzume either meets or hears of a number of the Ambassadors that will be within Toi Koku: Daidoji Akiudo, Ikoma Kiobito, Ide Ma-Chanto, Yoritomo Akyuudo, Yasuki Garou. She also meets a Lion adviser to the Lion ambassador, Matsu Fushubi.

Agasha Nyokazu spends his time among the other shugenja and smiths of the gathering, building relationships and reaching out to trade what information he can. He finds success with the Unicorn’s Iuchi Family and has a long talk with a Yasuki Garou about what mining costs and the two quickly become friends.

Mirumoto Kinji and Dairya focus on who poisoned the Emerald Champion, Kakita Toshimoko. Their investigations lead them on a deadly slope, when they begin to suspect Kakita Ichiaro (Toshimoko’s highborn son). Assisted by Yojiro, the honest scorpion, finds that his honor now allow himself to write his own warrants, so he deputizes Kinji and Dairya as Emerald Champions for the day. The two then become locked in the investigation.

The Brotherhood’s heads go into seclusion to discuss who would become the next Abbot of the Brotherhood of Shinsei.

The Imperial Court reconvenes, but under the leadership of Otomo Banu, who spends the day trying to sort out where the Shrine of the New Thunders will be, the Crane loose their bid due to a few subtle words from Kenzo, and it will be placed near the old Shrine to the Thunders, a few miles north of Biden Pass in control of the Brotherhood of Shinsei.

Yoritomo when comes into the court, and declares himself the Clan Champion of a Great Clan and not a Minor Clan, as part of an arrangement made by the Thunders and himself. The Great Clans go into an uproar, until Yoritomo says he will answer any accusations of him being a liar in person. Togashi Hoshi surprises everyone when he declares the Dragon’s support. This causes a number of reactions, with Banu trying to regain control of the court being the largest display. The Mantis declare the Dragon allies, the Crane and Phoenix forge an allaince, the Lion become insulted, and the Crab and Unicorn start talking privately. The alliance between the Phoenix and the Dragon becomes strained. As the Court spirals into brash shouting, The Son of Storms leaves, departing to Toi Koku to found his Clan’s embassy, promising much food to the Dragon.

Knezo finds Kinji and Dairya, offering them his skills to help in the investigation. The group finds poisonous leaves in Ichiaro’s tea set, and a servant testifies to seeing the Crane Lord add it into his father’s tea. Given how he arranged the set up with Dairya it becomes obvious that Ichiaro had tried to kill his father. The group goes to Yojiro with their evidence.

Nozomi and Ryojiro warn Yoritomo of Norikazu’s Ravings, and try to convince him from seeking war. The Mantis Clan Champion however must meet these challenges to his name and his Clan’s Honor and sees little choice but to allow the fortunes to decide the outcome, but says he will use it as a last resort. He departs fully along with Ryojiro’s write.

Meanwhile in the courts, the Fox and Sparrow pacify the Lion with a gift of rice, and the Great Clan finds itself humbled.

Yojiro speaks with Doji Kuwanan about his coming accusation and the Crane Clan Champion tells the Scorpion to proceed. Ichario fights the accusation and he challenges Yojiro to prove his innocence, and the two agree to a duel in the garden, with Kinji overseeing the duel. Kinji has both men write a letter as to why they think the Emerald Champion was poisoned before the duel and he holds onto these words while the two draw steel. The duel is over quickly, with a khamic strike, leaving both men dead. Kinji reads the letters out loud and says publicly that Ichario was guilty.

The Brotherhood elders come out of seclusion with the name of the Abbot, Takao. The Court celebrates, this fact and tries to set aside the duel as best they can. The Crane are noticeably subdued in their shame. Hoshi approaches Takao and publicly gifts them with the original Tao. Isawa Unshina’s spirit goes nearly mad with frustration at her goal being taken from her hands yet again. Takao honors the Dragon Fly and gives Tonbo Toryu the True Tao, along with holding the New Tao (which was recorded by Isawa Osugi when Takao and the Hooded Ronin spoke). Otomo Banu makes it known he does not like this idea, as the Tao both belong in the Imperial City, but his comments are never addressed.

While everyone else is celebrating, Shinjo Yokatsu approaches Ryojiro and informs him that he accepts his offering of a Kitsuki Magistrate, and wishes to know which family he wishes within Toi Koku to held administer the Emperor’s Justice and Laws. Since this is so public, it draws much of the Court’s eyes. Ryojiro says a Battle Maiden will do, and the two agree. This causes the Unicorn and Dragon to become closer, but makes the Lion more distant.

While Agasha Tamori and Nyokazu are watching over the Emerald Champion, the Hooded Ronin (the decedent of Shinsei) comes into the room. He speaks briefly with Nyokazu and revives the Emerald Champion, he then leaves and vanishes from the Empire completely. Nyokazu is the last person the Hooded Ronin speaks to in the Empire.

Revived from his coma, the Emerald Champion comes to know what his son had done to him. He then seeks out Dairya to finish their duel. The two meet in the morning, with Kinji overseeing once more. The two great masters of the duel settle in, and although Toshimoko moves first, it is to merely lower his hand from the blade and not draw it, Dairya rushes forward seeing the movement, and cuts the Crane down. Dairya then turns on the older duelist, screaming in frustration, never knowing who was the best duelist in the end. The Emerald Champion dies, and Dairya is released innocent of his charges.

The Samurai of Toi Koku then depart, a number of them heading in different directions. Kinji departs with Togashi Mitsu and Togashi Hoshi to the High House of Light. While there he gets some sand from Togashi’s garden and gets a plum. He also sees the tree’s unique leaves and realizes that the tea merchant that he spoke with earlier in Toi Koku is Hoshi. He speaks with a number of his peers on his way down the mountains and promises of students are given to him. An ally from the Brotherhood has been sent to him to aid his students.

Ryojiro makes plans to aid the Mantis and the Minor Clan Embassy to settle in. The Minor Clan Embassy is chosen to not be a part of the Mantis Embassy but a separate building, and one removed from the main roads. He also now finds his silos full.

Nyokazu focuses on studying the blade of given to him by the Void Dragon, and realizes the task set before him. Although undaunted, he realizes how much respect the Dragon must have for his skill.

Suzume returns to her letters, and planing of her courts, finding her game of letters turned into an ally in the Imperial Courts, Otomo Hoku.

Nozomi sees her Temple finished, and finds the Brotherhood have sent her some support.

Kenzo polishes up the Embassy of the Scorpion, and pens a new play about the events at the naming of the Abbot. He receives an attendant from his father as a gift.

Two weeks pass form this, and Mid Spring is upon the Samurai of Toi Koku, with Yoku’s day of returning come and gone…

On a Pale Horse...
Yoku's Late Return
  • Everyone gained 4xp, xp count of 36.
  • Mid Spring (Month of the Dragon).

Two weeks passed as much occurred with Toi Koku, with the temple coming to completion, the scorpion embassy flourishing to life once more, the mantis embassy is well underway, and the minor clan alliance building is still being planned.

While gathering for breakfast, Tonbo Suzume spoke privately with governor Hoshi Ryojiro, trying to advise him of making the Minor Clans appear to at least have a seat at the table by placing them along the one of the main roads. He expressed his thoughts that they shouldn’t be given such an honor least it offend the great clans. Suzume the meeting understanding her governors position. When she left Ryojiro immediately began redrafting the minor clan’s position by forging a new road.

The rest of the Samurai eat their breakfast, when Suzume who had left early notices a rider coming into town. He is a Mirumoto and came saying that his caravan picked up Mirumoto Yoku had been found on the road, while dogs harried him. He was on a horse and he is not well. He apparently can not seem to sleep and is raving. Suzume takes the rider inside to meet the governor and they chose to hide Yoku’s condition from the city.

The group made plans, hearing that the dogs still follow the caravan, and knowing they had a day to prepare they took the day to finish some tasks.

Agasha Nyokazu planned out the final locations of his sake brewery and laboratory.

Bayushi Kenzo began planning with Suzume of building up the town and truly turning Toi Koku into a town worthy of the coming ambassadors.

Mirumoto Kinji aided in setting up his garden and planing the plumb tree from the High House of Light.

Isawa Nozomi worked with the brotherhood and her new ronin allies towards seeing to the needs of the farmers around the village.

Finally evening came, and everyone prepared. When the caravan came within, Yoku was a haunting of the man he used to be. He was thin, sickly, wild eyed and ranking about dead men’s faces in the snow and that his horse in infected and needs to be killed, everything that is skilled must be burned again.

The samurai then split up, with Kinji going to look at the dogs, while Nozomi watched on with her magics after ordering her ronin allies to look after Yoku. Suzume went to go look at Yoku’s pale white horse, and Kenzo listened to Yoku’s insanity. Ryojiro went to the battlements to look at the dogs.

Nozomi who was using her magics looked in on the dogs before Kinji arrived and saw the dogs acting strangely, but was unable to warn Kinji, as he made friends with the dogs by giving them fish.

Suzume came to the realization that the horse that was eating with the others was in fact dead. The horse turned to look at her with eyes that suggested it realized that it was caught, and Suzume began to cast her volleys of Jade Strike at the horse, which burned, and she saw ropy red things slithering inside of the horse before it fell to the ground. Ryojiro jumped in then to help bring order to the castle which began to react as if under attack.

At the same instance, the dogs all looked up and reacted in pain, and then began to flee. Kinji loosed his blade and struck at the hind quarters of one of the fleeing dogs, and nearly cut it in half. However, with the wound a spray of red worms came boiling out and Kinji dodged just in enough time to escape them as they seemed intent on landing on him. The dog kept running desire the wound and Kinji say the worms were somehow repairing the devastating strike. He threw his knife, but it missed and the dogs slipped into the night.

Suzume worried of a spreading infection, called upon the kami to know the level of taint and contamination of the area. Earth informed her that a spirit of air was in the area that was corrupted. Unable to banish it, Nozomi used her sight to find the kensin, which was nettling Yoku’s mind making it so he could not sleep. She destroyed the kami, and Yoku fell asleep of an intense exhaustion.

The group then began to prepare to good after Yoku’s unit, fearing the worst, and each of the reflected on why they were going, each of them had a different reason for this coming march.

In the morning they roused Yoku long enough to try and learn what he knew. His mind was hazy, and he could only recall bits and pieces. He recalled heading north looking for some of his missing men, and found them on the road (saying they were delayed due to the weather), got them back in the formation. They then went into the Great Fall and followed the map to where they were sure the Yobanjin were. Getting closer, Yoku broke his men into three groups, sending light infantry on both sides with archers. The heavy and the cavalry would break the center while the other two units rained down death. A strong snow storm came over them. He thinks one of the groups returned, but their faces were wrong, then they were betrayed by his men, then a cave, a bear with worms within it, so many worms, and then fleeing in the snow to get reinforcements, a man with blood on his face speaking in some tongue not known to Yoku, more betrayal on the road his men had worms in them, then the dogs… Yoku when rested, recovering promising to watch over the city for Ryojiro.

The group grimly gathered their supplies and made for the Great Fall.

To the Great Fall
  • Everyone gained 4xp, xp count of 40.
  • Mid Spring (Month of the Dragon).

As the Samurai gather themselves up, and hand off the city to their subordinates, Tonbo Naoki pleads with his sister Tonbo Suzume not to leave because he doesn’t want to loose her. They liberate a finger of jade for each samurai from the stores as they prepare to head out.

Bayushi Kenzo receives a missive and says that he must remain behind by a day or so, and the Governor allows him to be delayed.

The rest of the Samurai then head off into a constant drizzling rain, and take refuge in High Slope Farms and stay in Kisuki Riku’s keep. they have dinner with the local lords there, each jockeying as Lord’s do for the honor of serving in better positions and promising their youths to training in Toi Koku‘s dojo. Kistuki Rikujou offer’s her eldest son who is training to become a Justicar to take over as lord of Great Fall Mines, but is rebuked for the time being. Rikujou says she will send her son to the dojo in a few months, while Mirumoto Rando says that his children are almost of age, and at least one of his two children shall attend. The next day the band departs for the Great Fall, and the rain seems to pass into the south. Suzume’s practice of throwing stones suggests bad fortune lays ahead.

As the band of samurai climb from the low hills of the Dragon lands into the Great Falls, they can see that much of the area is locked in the chill of winter ice which will not thaw until summer. The going is rough and hard, and the group is forced to slow due to the pace of those who are not used to the rigors of mountain climbing and hiking. The snow drifts often get to knee height, which is fortunate due to the snow fall’s slow rate Mirumoto Kinji is able to find two strong set of tracks with a few minor ones. One which is almost a month old told of a great many of creatures passed through, only able to tell from their deep drift they made. A second one, much fresher seems to have moved down the mountain slope, and with not as many within it’s band. A few looser light tracks can be found but they could be game or others who scouted ahead. Kinji rightfully thinks that the large drift heading in was Yoku’s unit, but he is unsure who left in such numbers. Hoshi Ryojiro feels that the answers they need lay within Great Fall and so the samurai pass deeper into the snows.

Suzume’s fortunes suggest deception then lay ahead, the day before they encounter another band of samurai that are searching through a valley floor, unearthing objects from the snow. Kinji can spot that the group is in Dragon armor, and sees no good way to sneak up on the group which is remaining in a military formation. Ryojiro decides to go confront the Dragon, and the band prepares for the worst.

The larger unit spots them, and they form up preparing for an assault all their own. Their leader separates and wades though the snow towards the smaller band of samurai from Toi Koku. The leader of the Dragon bushi stops in shouting distance and he and Ryojiro exchange some tense words, they exchange some pieces of jade and that action immediately eases the situation.

The two groups quickly combined their information and join forces. It turns out Mirumoto Kushin, one of Mirumoto Yoku‘s lieutenants was leading the southern group of bushi that was to wait for a single that never came. They waited until their stores of food were naught, and then dislodged themselves from their perch to look for signs of what happened to the other two groups. The moved back to this valley, which is where the main camp was. Along the way they found a band of their brothers, but they didn’t know their own names or the name of Yoku so Kushin ordered them fired upon with arrows, and saw things moving under the nameless bushi’s skins. So he set fire to their corpses, and rushed down. They found signs of a battle, and have been picking through the area trying to reclaim fallen blades and burn the bodies of the dead without touching them. They just had found a cave, and knowing form Yoku’s own words, half of the Toi Koku bushi went to investigate while the rest opened their packs and handed out food to the starving Dragon.

A quick survey of the cave found that Yoku’s revelations were accurate, it would seem a bear’s corpse lay on the ground, its wounds show signs of a black fine powder flowing from them. The cave was filled with blood, but no bodies, and ruined gear scattered all about, once more confirming Yoku’s strange story.

Suzume then contacts the Water Kami, and is shown a fantastic series of visions where Yoku’s main unit was assaulted during the night by the Northern unit, and the worms were within them. During the battle, an older man was there, wearing peasant cloths who was using blood magic. When the danger had passed, he called out a small girl, in peasant clothes who had worms seeping out of her mouth, and the worms would crawl into the corpses of the dead and reanimate them, then they left heading down the valley.

Ryojiro then unites the two groups and travels south, and knowing that the Dragon were starving, Isawa Nozomi draws what food she can from her prayers. They then head towards Distant Fall Village, needing to get more food to allow Kushin’s unit to return to it’s duty. So they climbed the side of a mountain and found a village resting in the cup of an extinct caldera.

When they arrived to Distant Fall Village they saw the village getting ready for evening, as farmers left their fields and shepherds took their herds into their pens, and eta spreading night soil and worms into the fields. They also saw a few Dragon samurai standing about the city, and as they got closer Kitsuki Sanpo, the long lost traveling magistrate approached the group. The samurai of Toi Koku told him of their plight, and he briefly explained the plight of the village, and that a sickness is in the village. He has had to stay and maintain order, and that the infected are being held in the old mines. However, first he sees to the feeding of the Dragon, and takes them to the tavern.

There the dragon are being served fried rice and eggs while being served sake, and Kushin’s group tucked in. Sanpo then took Ryojiro’s group to the mines. He explains that the sick have been held here for a while, and when they arrived, they found two Dragon bushi standing at the door of a pen where a few peasants are bound with ropes and worms are burrowing into their skin. They look sick and near death.

The group is shocked and still talk to Sanpo, asking him if he sees what is happening her. Sanpo explains that as a Kitsuki he was aware something was amiss, but he never saw the worms in his food. When he died, he already knew it was too late. With that confession, the two groups attacked one another. The shugenja purified the corpses of their kinsmen with jade bolts, and in one terrible display Agasha Nyokazu saw what lay under the skin, a colony of worms moving in unison, making the bodies move, and trying to repair flesh. Something that sickened him.

The battle was over briefly, and then from somewhere in the cave, they heard many voices calling out as a single consciousness, telling them that it is sad that they had to stop playing village so quickly with them. But it will wait for them to come out, and have more fun and play.

The samurai worked quickly to save the peasant,s and pulled the worms from the sick, and began to think of a plan…


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