Legend of the Five Rings: Echoes

Chapter 2: Winter Court (Session 11)

Cold and soft it falls,
A new season has arrived.
Fresh blood on the snow.

This was the first session of the second arc of our Echoes campaign. I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked, but judging from the players, it was a success. The actual group events were small, and I’ll only focus on those in the post. If players want to mention dreams or side conversations with NPCs, they can put it in their comment.

The session was the character’s first glimpse at a Winter Court. To make it easier, it was the Court of Toshiro’s father, Lord Katashi, so at least they were in friendly territory. Katashi had asked them to speak up the Crane to the visiting Imperials. He asked this because the Lion were there as well, and the discussion was War. Both sides were accusing the other of aggression.

Once court cordially started, all were asked to participate in a contest of artistry—poetry and storytelling to be precise. As well as everyone did, the people were mildly shocked that the Crab, Hida Takeshi’s, poem didn’t suck.

After that, the parties broke off to discuss treaties and point fingers. Hida Takeshi, fed up with politicking, took a walk, where he noticed masked men infiltrating the party. He immediately rushed back in to warn the others. While the rest of the Echoes kept up the appearance of normalcy, Hida rounded up the servants and Sanjuro rushed off to check on his wife.

Unfortunately, when he found his home, his wife had been poisoned by an assassin. But before he could cry for help…

Having rounded up the servants, Hida quickly found those who had infiltrated the party, posing as the servants. Before anyone could react, however, they revealed that they were packing their pockets with gaijin pepper…

…and blew up the party.

Sanjuro’s cry for help was drown out by the blast that rocked the whole city. Inside the remains of Katashi’s estates, a thin, tall man approached Yamako. He smiled, and told her this was a message from Isawa Kage. However, this was no man, but a Pekkle no Oni, who exploded, spreading Taint throughout the area. Hida Takeshi himself took the brunt of Jigoku’s darkness, though no one escaped unscathed.

However, Yamako, who had to choose which of her two fathers she could save, found a rage building within her. Isawa Kage had been a thorn in their side for too long, and she knew—since both Isawa Keitaro and Kuni Hachiro were here, that Isawa Kage was somewhere among them. She gathered all the Echoes together (including the Phoenix and Kuni), and took them to a secluded forest, where she summoned Kanshu, the jailer of Hell they had met in the previous session. With her own abilities, as well as those of the Dark Hunter, it was revealed that Kuni Hachiro was Isawa Kage, and after a brief battle, Hachiro escaped.

Though surrounded by grief and death, the Echoes now knew the true identity of their ancient enemy, and the hunt could start in earnest.

Comments

All I ever wanted…

I… I do not know what to say, to do. Everything I ever was or wanted, I have either lost or given up. I was raised to lead the family, to honor our clan, to fight Kakita battles and win Crane wars.
I wanted to see my father grow old with my own children on his knee. I wanted him to one day honorably pass his title as a Kenshinzen to me.
And now, he is gone. I have given up my chance to lead my family. I have cast aside my dreams for the future.

I have given up everything I ever wanted.

And I am stronger for it.

I leave behind everything I wanted, the childish dreams of my past. I live now for what I will make, what I will determine, in this life.
I do not swear myself to vengeance. Vengeance blinds you, makes you cold and unfeeling. I swear myself to Duty and to Honor, to see the Emperor’s Justice done.

Honoring those left behind, fighting for those beside me now, enduring for those who will be in the future. A new day is upon me, the first rays blinding and painful.

The Crane soars higher
Its wings brush the stars above
Your soul flies with it.

 

A Fox gains Crane wings
But Foxes belong earth bound
Fail and crash instead

I let my Lord die. I let Toshiro’s father die.

Kuni Hachiro has been revealed as Isawa Kage. That lying, manipulative bastard attacked the Winter Court. I couldn’t save everyone. I didn’t save Kakita Katashi.

Three ‘servants’ had gaijin pepper explosives attached to them, according to Hida, and blew themselves up along with many in the Court. My father and Katashi were lying next to each other, both badly wounded. I knew it was possible that I could only save one and that I must choose.

I chose my father. That choice will haunt me the rest of my life.

I had regained Hotei’s favor, but it didn’t feel like it. There was a rift between Toshiro and I, begun by my admitting my deception about Hakura’s death. He saw me choose and I felt the rift widen.

Hinata is the Lord now, since Toshiro has our karmic duty to fulfill.

Hida opened his mouth, and ended up with two duels with the lion. The first with Matsu Akiko to the death with tetsubo. He won. The second with katana with Akodo Honzo to first strike. They struck at the same time, but Hida still lost. His katana shattered.

He was injured in the duel, but not so badly that I couldn’t save him.

Havoc follows me here
My Soul grieves for those we’ve lost
And those we have killed

My father by marriage, my Lord, I let him die.

The Empire grows Dark
Nowhere to run or to hide
Death haunts the Echoes

 

Not only did my blade break, but I nearly died twice! Toshiro-san’s father dies in the explosion and Sanjuro-san’s wife becomes the lord.

I can’t say I will mourn for Lord Kakita, but I feel for Toshiro-san. He has lost much of his family within the recent year. I do however realize, however grim this may be, that with his father out of the way, I do believe our involvement in the Crane politics will diminish if not vanish. With this, we will be more able to do what our karmic duty has us destined to do.

I failed however in ensuring that we would be left out of the Crane politics when I was unable to defeat Honzo-san. I was clearly overmatched, but I was determined to enable us to freely fulfill our destinies by stopping the Lions under the terms of the duel with the Lion Lord’s champion. However, I was defeated and even dishonored by losing my blade. I do not blame Honzo-san, as he was fulfilling his duty to his lord (although I do not appreciate the lord commanding my death).

I could hang my head in shame but I won’t. I picked up new scars and I still have some fragments of my blade still bearing in my chest. I should have died…twice…but fate had something else in mind. I have a karmic duty to the Empire and nothing will stop me from doing what I was destined to do!

I am Hida Takeshi, descendant of the song Hiruma Do, bearer of Hiruma’s—no, HIDA’s Judgment! I will become stronger and quicker so I can defeat my enemies and then nothing will stop me!!!!

 

*Correction: descendant = reincarnation

Deathfrisbee2000

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