Legend of the Five Rings: Echoes

Session 3: Blood Moon Rising

Seeds of Darkness Take Root

The Seven Gather
Echoes Now Reunited
Evil Hides Unseen

After the Court of Kimusu, the group decided to travel East, to the coast. Fortunately, both Kitsune Yamako and Sanjuro Sakura were on their post-gempukku pilgrimage of the Empire, to learn the ways of the Samurai through experience. Sanjuro (Deceased) owed allegiance to no lord, and Kitsune Toshiro’s duty was to protect Yamala. Thus, they were currently able to forge their own path.Heimin laborers

Yamala desired to see her uncle and cousin in the Mantis Isles, and took the group to the tiny coastal town of Kishi Mura. On the road, they ran into Kuni Hachiro (Bound), Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased), and Sanjuro Keitaro (Deceased). The Crab were hunting down rumors of dark magic and witchcraft, while the young shugenja had decided on a whim to join them. The fact that he ran away from his handlers to do so would undoubtably come back to haunt the group.

As Takeshi and Keitaro joined the group, Yamala remembered her dream of the Seven Songs of Rokugan, and grew pale. She realized that one amongst their number was possibly a powerful sorcerer who had betrayed them in a previous life.

Worried thoughts aside, Yamala led the group into Kishi Mura. The peasants seperated, except for a small, angry man. Unknown to the Echoes and their companions, the man had recently lost a son to bandit attacks, and the local Crane samurai had not done anything about it. In his anger, he lashed out, throwing a rock that struck Kitsune Yamala on the cheek, drawing blood. Both the Crab Echo, Takeshi, and the Crane Echo, Toshiro, barred steel, ready to remove the man’s head, but Yamala immediately interposed.

After a heated discussion, the two samurai backed down to the Fox’s argument, and the old man’s wife, begging for his life, sobbed out the story of their missing son, and how many other villagers have been disappearing, only to reappear in a small band of raiders, attacking their own town.

AshigaruThe group unanimously decided to help the peasants deal with the bandits, and located the small camp northwest of Kishi Mura, the Battle Maiden, Sakura, scouting ahead.

Yamala and Keitaro called upon the kami for aid, the bushi using their blades or heavy weapons, and battle was joined. In the main command tent of the camp, they found a blood sorcerer, maho-tsukai, who was using witchcraft to control the peasants. He also had a trio of zombies, animated by pale porcelain masks. After a tough fight, the group managed to prevail, and return (most) of the peasants to their homes.

Returning to town, the peasants returned to thank their heroes. However, Toshiro still felt he needed to face the dishonor the old man had dealt Yamala. However, Sanjuro stepped in the way, refusing to allow the peasant to be hurt. The two faced off in an iaijutsu duel. Both samurai struck at the exact same moment, but only Sanjuro’s blade tasted blood. Toshiro stepped down, and the old man lived.

The session ended as a Mantis vessel was pulling into port. Yamala was pleased to see that it was her cousin Gayan at the helm of the vessel. Everyone gathered on board, and prepared to set sail for the Isles of Silk and Spice.

Comments

In the bow of my cousin’s ship was a small niche, one I tucked myself away in. It was a common hiding spot Isan and I had used and unless someone was looking for me, they wouldn’t see me. I very carefully unwrapped the bandage on my hand, exposing the slight burn on my palm. As it read, the symbols were nonsense, but it wouldn’t take someone very long to figure out it was Tengoku backwards.

It should fade with time, but it was likely I would always have ‘heaven’ on my palm. I was going to have to figure out some way to hold the golden egg so it wouldn’t burn me the next time we faced a maho-tsuki.

I sighed. Not if we did, but when we did.

I could hear a commotion towards the stern of the ship—it sounded like one of my companions hadn’t gotten their sea legs yet—Isawa-san if I had to put money on it. It worried me greatly that he had run away from home to travel with us.

The seven of us had found each other again. Not only that but six of us had successfully stopped a maho-tsukai, ending his enthrallment of a village, and trapping his soul within the artifact I carried.

The artifact Kuni-san offered to carry for me. The artifact Isawa-san stared at as I drifted off to sleep. The artifact that had burned my palm.

Hida-san and Kuni-san were no longer with us—both of them had duties to their clan—but they would be back. As sure as I knew that the sun would rise in the morning, I knew we would see Hida and Kuni again.

For the second time we had rid the world of some darkness. I also knew it would not be the last time. If we really were those seven great warriors—my instincts told me we were—then it was our job to cleanse the darkness. But why had we been brought back? What lessons did we need to learn? Or was there some lingering darkness growing in the world that the Fortunes thought us best to handle?

This was beyond my scope of knowledge.

If there was no such thing as coincidence, then my cousin’s appearance was the work of the Fortunes as well, a peace offering maybe. Maybe they were growing weary of my cursing at them all the time. It seemed like I was cursing at them and others a lot lately.

I wondered if Uncle Kousei would teach me some gaijin insults I could use against Hida next time.

He had infuriated me so. My cheek was sore—the cut had finally stopped bleeding but the bruise had finally formed—but it would heal. The peasant couple would never get their son back and had Sanjuro-san not won the duel, the woman would have lost her husband too.

I had gambled greatly, letting Kakita-san choose what to do with the man who threw the rock. I knew that according to Bushido the man was supposed to die—Hida-san kept loudly pointing it out—but I didn’t want him to die because of me.

The man was angry and lost and felt like he had no control over his life. He simply lashed out at the first available target—me. He didn’t cause me any serious damage and despite Hida’s protest, he hadn’t tarnished my honor either.

I was pretty sure Hida-san was the type of person who would kick a scared puppy for nipping in fear.

He annoyed me and angered me and that’s just the way he is. The way he was.

I didn’t like that I knew that. I’d known a lot of things I shouldn’t have.

I had known it was Isawa Keitaro-san who had followed us to our campsite before he revealed himself.

None of the other six, except perhaps Toshiro, understood the significance of the seven of us being together, meeting again. Seven souls thrown into the kharmic wheel, destined to meet again.

I’d been trying to remember my own past life to little result. If I could remember, if I could learn, if I knew more, maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t be so terrified of it all. It was all I could do to not faint at the campsite with the seven us of—and Kuno-san now that I thought of it—sitting there like old comrades.

The swim in the river had done me some good. Once the ship stopped, I would have to slip down the side for another swim. This time I would try and make sure the others didn’t see me. It wasn’t ‘proper’ to disrobe like that in front of others, especially men.

I had still been very modestly dressed by Isle standards. Oh, that was going to be fun, especially since it was just now starting to get warm on the isles. Kakita-san wouldn’t have a lack of material for his drawings.

It had been a little spiteful of me to tell Gayan about Toshiro’s drawing ability and I was sure he would retaliate in some manner—likely another picture of me that would end up in a pillow book. I wonder if he knew I truly didn’t care, at least not about the pictures. It was hard to get mad about something so beautiful, especially since I was so terrified of everything else.

I forced myself to take big, deep breaths. What had Father always told us? Courage wasn’t a lack of fear; courage was being afraid and moving forward anyway. Plus, I wasn’t alone in this. I had the six others, even if one of them was our tainted brother.

It would do me no good to worry about it right now. It also wouldn’t do me any good to treat the other six with suspicion and doubt. If the Fortunes were pushing the seven of us together for whatever purpose, it would be best not to hate each other.

It didn’t stop me from being glad Hida went to the wall.

There were too many forces here at work I had no control over, but there were things I did. I could spend time in the libraries on the Isles and gain more knowledge. I could seek council from my uncle now and my father later. I could foster the relationships between the five of us, the seven of us when Hida and Kuni eventually returned. I could help Keitaro train, learn, and grow, so when his lord finally found him, and us, his time away wouldn’t have been in vain. I could start using my brain and think before I did something that would cause my yojimbo distress. I could apologize to Toshiro again for my actions.

It seemed like every other conversation we had was going to involve an apology.

I re-wrapped my hand. Might as well find either Keitaro or Toshiro and have a frank discussion.

When had I started referring to them so informally in my mind??

Session 3: Blood Moon Rising
 

I have always felt a special kinship with peasants. The people most samurai feel are somehow below them. Because I am ronin, I’m also looked at with distain. That being said, there are samurai I like, and samurai I could live without. Hida-san, for the most part is a good man. I genuinely like him. However, his attitude toward peasants leaves much to be desired. It reminds me why I have never been overly fond of samurai in the first place. He was so quick to deem that old man who threw the rock at Yamala-Chan as unworthy to live, while not knowing the circumstances of the situation. Admittedly I was at first shocked and angry at what he had done, but I know sometimes why peasants are angry. It usually involves samurai.

Then there is Kakita-san. Again, a basically good man. But as Yamala-Chans yojimbo,there was only one coarse of action he felt he had to take after the old man threw the rock, end the old mans life. That was something I knew I couldn’ t let happen. Now here’s the tricky part. I’m not so sure that Kakita-san would have killed the old man had he won the duel. I’m not entirely convinced wouldn’t have either. I knew one thing for sure, he didn’t want to kill him. My initiation of the duel had two purposes, one, to try and save this poor groveling man, and two, to keep Kakita-san from having to even worry about making the decision to kill him.

I will always feel that one person should never be put above another, simply because he or she was lucky enough to be born in the right family. However, because that is the way it is in this world of ours, I will continue to defend those who don’t have the means to defend themselves.

Oh, and one more thing. I’m fairly sure Kakita-san held back during that duel. Of coarse, I will never say that to his face.

Session 3: Blood Moon Rising
 

Does honor no longer have any meaning? I don’t question the notion itself, but I do question whether people place their priorities above their own personal honor…

I was on my way back to the Wall when I received a mission from Kuni-san to investigate some dark magic practices happening in a village nearby the coast. I was honored to take such a mission. As we were heading towards the village, Kuni-san and I saw a small firelight. Being the tactician I am; I was wary to just pass on by out of the possibility that surrounding the campfire could be more foolish bandits with the gumption to try and take on two warriors. Or these beings could have been minions of the tainted ones. Either way, I was not going to take a chance. I carefully approached the camp, if they were to discover me and attack, the situation would be resolved immediately by the broad side of my tetsubo.

It turned out it was the other clan members I met not long ago. We got caught up on what happened in the recent days (apparently there was an interesting court I missed out on from all the blood I have heard). We apparently discovered we were heading in the same direction therefore we agreed to travel together. Albeit, these people do not appear to like my style since I keep close to my code of honor and they don’t, traveling in large company is a tactically-wise idea.

This is where the issues once again begin for me. Foremost, Kakita-san has the gall to insult my Iaijutsu techniques by criticizing me! Granted, I was a beginner learning the basic skills but to insult me in front of everyone is intolerable! I would like to see his skill with a tetsubo! He would likely be a clumsy oaf wielding such a real warrior’s weapon in the face of fighting the horrors I see at the Wall! As he did not push his insults further, I merely brushed off his insult with the knowledge that he would never dare face me in a dual where I had the advantage!

Then there’s Kitsune-san, the fact that a woman running around with her undergarments is inappropriate, regardless of what her background is. Her lack of self-modesty makes me question of her status as a lady that requires a Yojimbo to follow her around and protect her. I begin to wonder if she really is who she pretends to be. She seems to be honest in some regards, but she still appears to be hiding something (I must be honest to myself however, seeing such a sight was…stimulating…).

As we approached the village, the peasants reacted as they should save for one older man who was glaring at us all. No real samurai should tolerate a subject to treat us with such dishonor! I handled the problem, at least with me. That is until a rock hit Kitsune-san in the face causing blood to come out. I figured immediately it was the old man and dismounted my horse immediately to rectify the dishonor he has done to all of us including his own self! To no surprise his wife began weeping for his life, peasants never usually understand that they too, reflect their lord that they serve and when they act dishonorably, their lord is dishonored as well. To restore the honor that was lost, the old man must answer for his actions like a man. This is where my question begins to pronounce itself.

Kitsune tries to stop me from killing the man! He dishonors himself and her and she chooses to let this go?! Such actions are unwise as it will inspire more unrest as they see this weakness as an example! Such repeated behaviors could lead to peasants rebelling against a lax of discipline! However, since she has claimed a responsibility over him, and since it was her matter of honor and not mine, it was no longer my issue and fell into Kakita’s and Kitsune’s hands. I (reluctantly) washed my hands of the responsibility and left the old man’s fate to them. Kakita appeared as if he was reluctant to do the action himself! As Kistune “ordered” Kakita to stop and he complied, he allowed his sense of honor to be put aside! I spit at the notion that he would take a cowardly approach and allow her to order him to stand down! He should not even be samurai if he has no will to protect his honor as a warrior or to even to hesitate to do the deed that is required!

The old man proceeds to tell his sorrowful story of his son being lost to the dark magic and raids done on their village and yadda, yadda (same villager woes I always here, that’s what we, as in Crabs, are usually here for)…then I see the strange old man I met before when I last traveled with this group! What was he doing in another village? I went to investigate the matter. Apparently some of the others followed me thinking I was going to do something drastic to the rock gardener (I probably would have if this strange coincidence was of reasons due to dark magic). It turns out that the gardener was a monk! Such shame I felt for treating an esteemed monk like a mere peasant! I gave the monk a bow of apology before we gathered to take on the bandits.

As we traveled to this camp, Kitsune confronts me about “bullying” the peasants. I then realized she has no idea what honor means to a warrior. And the fact of seeing Kakita traveling with his tail between his legs (at least in my opinion) reflecting her will instead of protecting his own honor, made me realize that he didn’t know what being a true warrior meant either. I can understand and forgive Sanjuro’s objections to spare the old man as he is ronin and ronin do not adhere to the code of honor as they are disgraced the moment they choose to live instead of dying after their master passes on; I do admire him for his courage to speak his mind and to follow his own heart. It is like Sanjuro has set up his own code of honor in a way. For a ronin, that may be all a warrior without honor has left, at least, that is the way I see it. As for Kitsune, we all didn’t have time to discuss her twisted beliefs on why she believes I “bully” peasants. We had more important matters at hand, plus, I was not going to strike a woman for standing up for her beliefs, no matter how twisted the views she has are…even if she did dare to touch me, I admired her courage in doing so. And if Kakita had a problem with my comments on his honor-less act, he could always challenge me to a duel, I still would like to see the man try and handle a tetsubo.

We returned from our successful deed of clearing out the bandits and ridding the taint of the area. There was still the matter of the old man. He had admitted his wrong-doings and submitted himself to die with honor. However Kistune still objected but allowed Kakita to take the matter of his and her honor into his own hands. I watched on as Kakita drew his sword, I could see hesitation in his eyes however, such a disgrace! Sanjuro happened to step in between the old man and Kakita to preserve the old man’s life. Kakita had no choice but to answer Sanjuro’s challenge and the two dueled.

Sanjuro won the duel and the old man’s life was spared. He seemed to do everyone a favor by taking actions that spared the old man. Who could debate a ronin’s code of honor when he technically doesn’t have any? However, personally, I felt Sanjuro’s actions AS a ronin was probably one of the most honorable things a man could do. By taking the responsibility to the point where no one could debate the old man’s fate any further.

I guess maybe my question of honor IS about the notion itself. I follow the code of honor to its most rigid examples when I possibly can (save for when the good of the Empire comes before it). Despite my best efforts to follow the code, it seems to annoy the others because they do not comprehend it. However in a way, I noticed that those who seem to act dishonorably, still tend to display an air of…honor. Are the times changing? Or am I (changing) for noticing?

Foolish old man, why did he have to throw that rock?

Session 3: Blood Moon Rising
 

OOC: It was fun playing this while I could. It was interesting to play a character that was bound to his code of honor so much that his behaviors were almost out of my own control (I bent as much as I could without breaking character by giving him a “personal code of honor” which he also follows).

The best way I would describe this experience is being as torn as Gern was playing a Darkside Gaz. I wanted to do the “nice” or “right” thing but I remembered that the Bushido code is/was very different than how other moral principles we are used to are defined. However, it amused me greatly since his behaviors were even unpredictable to the other players and that his behaviors were often misunderstood.

There aren’t too many games where I played a character that was (almost) totally misunderstood. His code of honor and his no-nonsense/practical approaches to solving a solution made him out to be a “ruthless bully” that would “kick a scared puppy” makes me wish how we could see things evolve in their interactions over the course of time if I were able to continue playing this sniffs…that is assuming no one would try or succeed in killing him because of his antics _

Session 3: Blood Moon Rising
 

OOC: I don’t think Sanjuro would ever kill Takeshi, but he definitely has problems with him. However, as Sanjuro said, he likes him. I think they are two characters who can just agree to disagree.

Session 3: Blood Moon Rising
 

After the incidence at the Courts, Sakura planned to head out with her new and old friends that she had met in the Cranes territory. Yamala-san and Sanjuro-san decided to head for the coast, Sakura planned to go with them, seeing as how she had never seen the coast. Though shortly after Sakura got a massage from a unicorn massager, from her mother asking her to come home when she g got the chance. Farther along the road they ran across three more companions, Hachiro-san and Takeshi- san,said they was going the same diction to a village called Kishi Mura in search of dark magic.

Session 3: Blood Moon Rising
Deathfrisbee2000

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