Legend of the Five Rings: Echoes

Session 4: Blood in the Water

The Mantis preys, the Scorpion hatches.

A shell starts to crack,
And the Echo grows louder
A Lord’s gift returned

Session 4 was a LONG session that started with the players on a boat! A lot of stuff happened this session, so I apologize for a long, rambling blog.

Kitsune Yamako’s cousin, Gayan met The Echoes—minus Hida Takeshi (MIA, presumed deceased) and Kuni Hachiro (Bound)—at the coastal village of Kishi Mura. It appeared the Fortunes were smiling upon the group, as Yamala was looking to travel to visit her family in the Mantis Isles.

ImagesThe visit was short, only a 3 day trip on Gayan’s ship, but during their journey they were attacked by an Orochi—a massive sea serpent. During the battle, it swallowed Sanjuro (Deceased) whole, and would have crushed the ship in half if The Echoes hadn’t intervened. Yamala noticed it bore a spiritual wound infected with the Taint of Jigoku, causing it horrible pain and driving it mad.

The spirit-beast was beaten down by the samurai and sailors aboard Gayan’s ship, and as it slipped off the ship, beneath the waves, Yamala reached out to the kami of Earth and called on their aid to cleanse the Orochi. While not completely removing the Taint, it allowed the powerful creature to heal some of its own wounds. It regurgitated the ronin, somewhat soggy and bruised, and the group was able to continue on their path.

The group arrived at the Isles of Spice and Silk, in the main port of Yamala’s uncle—and Gayan’s father— Kousei. While the group traveled to Kousei’s palace, Sanjuro Sakura took her horse for a quick run-around. He had been cooped up below decks for 3 days, and the Unicorn Battle Maiden wanted to let him stretch his legs a bit. While on the road, she ran into a pair of Mantis samurai attempting to arrest a man with his little sister, claiming he was a war-criminal and warlord. Sakura scared them away, though the man was brusque with her when he found out she was visiting the local Mantis Lord.

Colonial harborUpon return, she realized she had just rescued a rebel who was leading a peasant revolt against Kousei and the Mantis in the area. Kousei was upset, but forgave her since she was young and didn’t know of the politics in the region. Though the Mantis lord told them there was no reasoning with the man, a ronin named Jiyu (Deceased… again), Sanjuro offered to help, claiming that a ronin would have better luck with the rebel than a samurai.

Before he could go, the Mantis guards in the palace began running to the library. While attempting to research the history of The Songs of Rokugan, Yamala was attacked by a tainted assassin. Luckily, her yojimbo Kitsune Toshiro was present, and with his steel and her magic, the dishonored man was laid low. Kousei immediately doubled the guard in his palace.

The next day, Sanjuro traveled to where he had heard that Jiyu’s forces were gathered. When he met the ronin general, it quickly became clear that the young man’s hatred for the Mantis would overcome any reason or argument. Sanjuro to the surprisingly quick conclusion that Jiyu needed to die. If the revolutionary was gone, Sanjuro figured, then the peasants under him had a chance at survival. However, the Echo wisely kept his mouth shut to all but Kousei. The Mantis Lord showed regret that the man had to die, but told Sanjuro, “I’m glad there are men out there willing to risk their Honor to do what is right.”

During their stay, Yamala spoke with her uncle about the events that had transpired, including that Toshiro’s lord, Doji Hakura (Deceased), was a wicked man who tortured criminals and peasants unnecessarily. Kousei assured her he would do something about it.

53008779After a week of study at her Uncle’s library, Yamala had what she had come for, and Gayan taxied the Echoes across the sea and to the Fox lands. From there, they traveled north to Toshiro’s village, under command of Lord Hakura. Toshiro’s lord was upset, and the Echoes soon discovered that Hakura’s own lord—Toshiro’s father—was removing Toshiro from the minor daimyo’s command soon. Hakura planned on forcing Toshiro into dishonor before returning him to his father. He never had his chance, however.

While Toshiro was out of the village, a mysterious assassin struck, slaughtering all the samurai in the village, and murdering Hakura. Toshiro is now lordless, and how his father is going to react to this, is something that the young samurai dreads.

Session 4 was huge for everyone. The line used to describe this session was, “Well, THAT escalated quickly.”

Comments

Oh my goodness I got to travel by boat for the first time, I myself didn’t think it was that bad, though Tomaki wasn’t so sure of the whole thing. Specially after the first night aboard, when we got attacked by a sea serpent. I can’t say I was much help, not use to having the boat move around so much. Poor Sanjuro- san though he got eaten by the massive creator, but somehow he managed to get free. It was a little weird though I believe that Yamala-san was communicating with it, then she helped the creator which then returned back to the sea.
Shortly after landing I was excited to be back on land same with Tomaki, so the first chance we got we bolted for it. Though we then found out that was a bag idea, in which we got lost. Soon afterwords we then found a group of we starting a squarish, so we stepped into the middle of it. We do not know the whole story, but from what it sounded like to us the Mantis Lord who was over looking the peasant, was trying to taxes the people out of home and taking their foods, while the guards was saying he was a warlord. To me he didn’t look like much, and his little sister was so freighted by everything that was going on. I then told the guards to be on their way and to leave the siblings alone. I then asked if the couple needed protection on their way home if they could tell me where the Kousei’s palace was, he was then not happy with me, and told me I should leave.
On our return to the Palace we was then met up with some very pushy and rude guards. Who took me to see Kousei, where I might have been a little out of line, but even though I’am training to be a Battle Maiden I believe no bloodshed split is good and told him he should listen to his subjects. Luckily for me was that he took my youth and the fact I had no clue to the matter and excused me. We then decided it best to have the matter out to rest and have Sanjuro-san go in and try to talk to him. Supposedly after two days the man was assisted. Speaking of assassinations their was an attempt in the palace, I don’t know the whole story not being there, I was off with Yamala-san’s cousin Gayan-san. But supposedly Yamala-san and Toshiro-chan was in targets. After that security went up though out the whole palace.
The rest of the week we spent that Kousei’s Palace was fairly quite. Sanjuro-san and Toshiro-chan both helped me a little more on my kenjutsu, both told me I’m getting better at it. Gayan-san helped me with my kyujutsu, and offered to take me to a beautiful place to see the stars, and even gave me a lovely silk kimono with Unicorn colors along with matching necklace. I’m not sure but I believe he is trying to start a courtship with me, though he’s not as forward as Shinjo Hong.
As we were getting ready to end our stay at the palace, that was when stuff started getting crazy. Toshiro-chan got word from his father to come home to discuss about what happened at the Courts and possible arrangements. I got word again from mother for me to come home soon to discuss about arrangements for Hong-san, Gayan-san and Toshiro-chan. We traveled back to the northern mainlands by boat with Gayan-san, this time luckily we didn’t get attacked.
We made land fall in the Fox territory, where Yamala-san is from. The Kitsune’s Palace has a deep forest off to the side that gives me bad feeling, Yamala-san seems to feel at home.
After a few days stay we got message to go to back to the Crane Lord Doji Hakura. Yamala-san thought it would be faster to travel though the forest. And boy was I right the forest was very creepy, Tomaki thought so as well. Surely enough though we arrived in the little crane village in no time. Abound riving we meet back up with Doji Hakura, who said that Toshiro-chan’s father wishes for him to return home and to end his employment with Hakura-sama, but before the termination of employment he had a few jobs left for him. One which was to be done asap, we was to go to a neighboring village and teach the Lord not to be late with taxes and to also get the taxes. We was hoping to find Sanjuro-san before we left town, but no luck. So, we headed out did the deed and came back to town. Upon arriving back we notice that there was no gate guards, in till closer look that we noticed they had been assassinated, actually all the guards was assassinated, none of the peasants just the guards. Abound looking we did find Sanjuro-san who had just been knocked out. Worse of all we found Doji Hakura with spine and neck slit. While we were trying to calm the peasants of what had happened the Earth started to shake violently, where we learned from Yamale-san that the Earth ate Doji Hakura, I have a feeling that isn’t go at all.
Abound leaving Toshiro-chan received another massage from his father, which was most defiantly not good, pretty much we had a month to find Doji Hakura assassin, or Toshiro-chan will have two choices become a ronin or meet the dawn.
So the question is who killed Doji Hakura?

Session 4: Blood in the Water
 

A single snowflake
Does not cause the avalanche
But piled up they will

The dull ache at my side was a little reminder of just how many issues kept piling together, threatening to topple me over. The healer had done a wonderful job, but I will still always have a small scar from where the assassin’s poisoned blade hit me.

The tainted assassin who struck Toshiro and me in my Uncle’s library, somewhere I should have been safe. Even if I would have been able to take down the assassin alone, the poison paralyzed me and made me unable to even breathe. Had Toshiro not been there to keep the air flowing through me—something that brings a blush to my cheeks when I think about it—the attack would have claimed my life.

And now his lord Doji Hakura was dead, along with all of his samurai vassals except for Toshiro. Dark Kami had stolen most of the bodies of the slain, pulling them through the earth to somewhere else. Had Hakura not stripped Toshiro of his duty as my yojimbo and sent him on a petty mission to slaughter a peasant, his body may have been in that pile as well.

I had a strong hunch that the deaths were my Uncle ‘taking care of it’ like he said he would, but I would never, ever, ever say that. Especially to Toshiro.

The theft of the bodies was the third time twisted and tainted things had been nearby, fifth if I count the daisho and the maho-tsukai. Sixth if I include the ‘dream’ I had about someone temporarily stealing the Egg of Purgatory and trying to use the souls within to summon Kage no Oni. The Egg feels empty now, so I don’t believe it was a dream.

I also don’t believe it was a coincidence that shortly after the ‘dream’, we were attacked by a Tainted Orochi. I managed to heal the spirit enough for it to regain its mind and regurgitate Sanjuro, but the other two sailors it had swallowed were lost.

It felt like these evil things were being drawn towards me because of the Egg, or I was being drawn towards them because of it. I had found information about the Songs of Rokugan, but more information about the Egg had been lost, at least in Uncle’s library. I had names, clans, and when they lived 300 years ago.

And Kurogama had told me my past life’s true name, and reminded me that I was not a spirit this time—I would not disappear—and that I shouldn’t hide my true feelings towards the man I cared about. He called me Utsukushi. My grandmother.

Me.

I was not a spirit this time. I was mortal, but then, that means I have to play by their rules.

He already knew how I felt. We had talked before and then I thought I was alone in the bath when I started talking through everything that was going on, including my feelings for him. I hadn’t heard him enter so he must have been there the entire time. Curse you Hotei.

I couldn’t remember if I had said exactly what the letter Isan had hidden for me to find contained, but I didn’t think so. It hurt when I thought of all the pain my twin must have suffered because of me. He said that the pain of being near me was finally more than the pain of being apart.

That I understood. The pain of being apart from Toshiro was more than the pain of being beside him. But now, because of his father and his slain lord, he was no longer my yojimbo. There was no reason why he should be by my side.

His father wanted him to marry him off to Sakura-san. My cousin wanted to marry her as well, something that baffled me. His mother thought I was unimportant and his father wanted to punish my father for my stupid actions.

If my hunch was right, my words had gotten a cruel man killed, but also almost all of his vassals, many of whom’s only crime was having a cruel lord. Someone had tried to kill me and would likely try again. If darkness was being drawn towards the Egg, then anyone around me would be drawn in as well, and hurt or even killed.

I was not playing this mortal game very well.

There were so many things happening and I barely understood any of them.

But I could not give up. If we had been sent back for another chance, I had to take it. Nothing worth doing was easy. No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place. I would keep fighting; I would have that continuous courage to keep going no matter what because I must. I am Kitsune Yamala of the Fox Clan and I am not alone in this fight.

. . . and I am in love with Kakita Toshiro.

If the Fortune of Happiness had forsaken me, then it was up to me to make my own happiness.

Now how in Tengoku’s name was I supposed to do that?

Session 4: Blood in the Water
 

“I killed a good a good man yesterday.”

I said to myself outloud as I left the village on my way back to Kouseis palace. I was there seeing my friend Kuno off. I had to stop myself from getting to depressed, but it was hard knowing what I had done.

Jiyu was a ronin who was leading a group of peasants and other ronin against Kousei, because they feel his taxes are unfairly high. I wanted to persuade Jiyu to meet with Kousei in order to iron things out, otherwise all out war was inevitable. As I came close to the tent that housed Jiyu this little girl came up and looked up at me. I smiled, she ran off, and into the arms of the ronin general Jiyu.

Inside his tent, Jiyu began to describe the woes of the peasants he was representing. I knew all to well the suffering of peasants, and I wanted to stress that point to him. I tried as hard as I could to convince him to continue to appeal Kousei with non-violence. However, no matter what I tried, his hatred for Kousei and the Mantis clan in general was far too great. It was clear that to him, there was absolutely no alternative. He was going lead these people into battle.

This is just an estimate, but there were maybe three thundered people in this camp. If Jiyu led them into battle against Kouseis forces, they would be crushed. Jiyu was a good man, but he was intending on letting these people march to their death. The only results of this would be another smashed rebellion. Nothing but more needless death. I had to do something. If Jiyu wouldn’t be persuaded with words, I had to do something else to seethe lives of these people who loved and trusted him so well.

I left the camp, and hid myself a short ways away. When darkness fell and I knew most of the camp would be asleep, I snuk in, headed to Jiyus tent. I dispatched the guards quickly, then got into the tent. The little girl was in there with Jiyu. I had to be very carefull. I got to Jiyu pulled out my wakizashi and stabbed him in the heart. He died instantly, and more importantly, quietly. As I sunk out of camp, I heard the little girl start crying…..I didn’t need that. I learned later that little girl was Jiyus sister.

I didn’t want to kill him. I had great admiration for Jiyu, and I will always remember him. I reported to Kousei what I had done. While regretful that he had to die, he was glad that problem was solved. The next day, I learned that Jiyus forces had indeed dispersed. While I will always be sad that it had to this way, I will be satisfied that I saved so many lives from pointless slaughter.

Session 4: Blood in the Water
 

Sensei,

You taught me that between each Virtue lies a boundary, a line where they either conflict or complement. I did not understand, when first you taught this lesson. I hope that you find pride in that I now comprehend.

An old peasant, family dead or taken, assaulted the Kitsune shugenja I was yojimbo to. When I moved to take his head, Kitsune-san insisted that I show Compassion and discover why the act occurred. This was the first conflict between the Seven Virtues I have ever encountered.

I chose Compassion, and listened to the old man’s tale: their lord ignoring all pleas, a maho-tsukai stealing their young men to do his bidding, pirates raiding their few food supplies. I judged Compassion’s route as removing the immediate danger from the village, then taking the old man’s head for his unforgivable act. Thus would both Duty and Compassion be appeased.

We slew the sorcerer and freed the peasants from his control. The old man’s only son died in the fighting. We returned to the village triumphant, but I remembered my Duty. As I prepared to rub out the village’s dishonor, something threatened to stay my hand: I did not wish to kill this old man who had already lost so much. When the ronin Sanjuro stepped forward to defend the peasant, I almost rejoiced at the opportunity to avoid needless death. Yet Duty demanded that nothing stand in my way: we declared a duel to decide whom the Fortunes favored.

I measured him, and knew him slower.
I tested him, and knew him less skilled.
I examined him, and knew that I could win.
But I did not strike with all of my strength.

The look on Sanjuro’s face as he defended an old man he barely knew, that willingness to face an opponent he knew to be better than he: I could not strike with my full might. Though Duty demanded the peasant’s sin be punished, my Honor and Compassion warred with it and won.

And thus do I now feel that I have failed Sincerity as well.

Tetsuya-sensei, I ask your guidance and discretion on this matter. You have always been the ideal I set my goals upon, and now I ask you to direct your clear vision and understanding upon my case. I am only starting upon the road of a Kakita samurai, and I had not expected such a conflict to arise so soon.

Your student,
Kakita Toshiro

Post Script – Look for an upcoming book from my uncle. I am unsure of the title, but am eminently familiar with the subject material.

Dearest Mother,

As always, hearing from you lightens my heart and brightens my days.

News has no doubt reached you of the slaughter in Hakura-sama’s court. I write to assure you that I am well, and have taken over the duty of administrating the village until the Emerald Magistrates arrive.

I regret that your assessment of Hakura-sama was not far off the mark: upon hearing of my imminent removal from his service, he remarked that father ‘would not get me back in one piece’. I was away on his order during the attack, making an example of a village leader late on paying his taxes. I returned to find my friend Sanjuro unconscious and every other Samurai in the village dead.

Perhaps it is best that the ladies of our little party had accompanied me.

I will endeavor to write again as soon as this matter has been resolved: I merely wished to assure you that I am well.

Your loving son,
Shiro

Oya-ero,

I need a favor. Father has decided that Doji Ineko must pay for the indecent incident she trapped me in, and I presume that he has designs to that end.

I beg of you to use your considerable resources to save her from that fate. She is a friend, perhaps more in time, and I would not wish to see such a nightingale struck down before her time to truly shine.

Beyond that, I have included the extensive notes taken on my adventures as Kitsune-san’s yojimbo. From the Court of Kimisu to the attack of the Orochi, to the assassination attempt that forced me to breathe air into her lungs, to my removal as her bodyguard: I’ve put a little spin to make it a more appropriate story for your readers, and included a score of drawings beyond any of my previous works.

I trust that you will at least change the names, this time.

A favor for a favor, uncle. And my continued efforts on behalf of your quest.

Your loving nephew,
Toshiro

Session 4: Blood in the Water
Deathfrisbee2000

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