Kyuden Caerdydd - Champions of the Sapphire Throne
Formerly Togashi Kane, Enlightened Tattooed Monk, Jade Magistrate, Master Sensei of the Thunder Mountain Dojo
No one thinks like I
Many times ghosts have said to me
I should be the One
We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, most were meant to stay on the shore. Others are far voyagers into the dark Void. Fewer still are able to recognise, let alone comprehend the fundamental Truths they find there. They understand both the Essence and the Way, they are the Enlightened.
Togashi Kane on the subject of Enlightenment (Spring of 1503)
Togashi Tattooed Order Rank 5 (Student of the Tao)
Stamina 3 Willpower 4
Strength 3 Perception 3
Agility 4 Intelligence 3
Reflexes 4 Awareness 3
Artisan (Tattooing) 1
Games (Go) 1
Instruction (Togashi Tattooed Order) 3
Doomseeker Ritual (1)
Great Destiny (5)
Hands of Stone (5)
Kharmic Tie (Kakita Ken'ichi) (1)
Bad Fortune (Evil Eye) (3)
Fascination (Tattoos) (1)
Haunted (Mirumoto Jinzaki) (3)
Blood of the Kami (Bamboo and Ki-rin)
Body of Stone
Blessing of the Kami (Lion and Ocean)
Defining the Essence, Learning the Way
Touch of the Kami (Mantis and Phoenix)
Dance of the Flames
Falling Star Strike
Rest, My Brother
Ride the Water Dragon
Soul of the Four Winds
Robes, Daisho, Travelling Pack, Kachiko's Flute, Jinzaki's Puzzle Box
The baby that would become Togashi Kane was found outside the gates of the High House of Light the morning after the most fierce blizzard of the winter had battered the monastic castle. Whilst notable that he had survived the night, the ise zumi were more curious as to how someone had managed to make the journey up the hidden paths of the mountains in such foul weather. To do so undetected was even more remarkable.
Nevertheless, the Togashi accept any that prove worthy into their ranks, and they took the child into the Order as one of their own. This was despite certain mis-givings about the child's 'Evil Eye', having one blue and one green eye. Kane proved to be an able student, soaking up esoteric knowledge as if he were a bottomless well. He also studied the mysteries of kaze-do, before being judged worthy of wearing the blood of the kami.
Realising that a broader vision of the world was required to further Kane's enlightenment, the Masters of the Order sent the young monk to compete in the Topaz Championship, possibly to observe, possibly to annoy stiff-necked Crane. One Crane in particular, Kakita Ken'ichi, made several attempts to get Kane removed from the competition. Although, much to the monk's amusement, he failed, with Kakita Saburashi himself stating that the young Dragon would be allowed to continue.
In any case, following a surprisingly good performance, the Masters have put him forward for consideration for the position of Emerald Magistrate. Despite the incidents at the Topaz Championship, Kane senses a kharmic link with Kakita Ken'ichi, and it came as no surprise when they were placed in the same training group. A position as Emerald Magistrate would suit Kane well, as the opportunity to travel the Empire would allow him to seek news of his true family, Fortunes permitting.
The Journals of Mirumoto Kane
Bayushi Ichizo: He is the proverbial 'Honourless Dog'. To quote a reliable source
'he does not adhere to or even recognize the tenets of Bushido . . . individuals of this sort cannot be trusted, and value only their own interests and well-being at the expense of anyone and anything else. Criminals fall into this category.'
A damning indictment indeed, but a man is but a mirror of his deeds and therefore his soul. It is said that everyone has their role in the Celestial Order and that Scorpion tactics are sometimes required. I would quote the Tao of Shinsei, 'Petting scorpions with a compassionate hand will still result in a sting'.
Big Dumb Crab Bastard: His title says it all. Has all the subtlety of a large rock falling from the Heavens. Then again, when the fighting is fierce, a large rock falling from the Heavens is exactly what is required. Unfortunately, he sided with the Scorpion during the Magistrates Test, suggesting he is either dumber than he looks, or more of a bastard. Still, he was brave enough to swim a river and climb a cliff with me in order to investigate a haunted castle, so perhaps there is hope for him yet.
Isawa Satomi: Truly an interesting individual. Has the outward appearance of a pacifistic and peace-loving samurai-ko. However, I have sensed a deep-seated pride and burning ambition for temporal power and success. Indeed, such drives have manifested themselves during the last few months, such as the explosion of pent-up fury during duelling tests (although I have yet to see such activity during a real combat), 'exaggerating' her magical ability (whilst in a consecrated temple no less) and her anger at failing to secure the position of Sapphire Magistrate. She has claimed that I rely too much on the kami, which is a strange statement from a priestess, as we all worship the kami every second of our existence. Along with the Crab, she sided with the Scorpion during the Magistrates Test. Enough said.
Kakita Ken'ichi: How times have changed. We have come a long way since he tried to get me ejected from the Topaz Championship, and he is now my closest ally. Such is fitting as our Clans are united, and we have stood together against oni and Blood-speakers. He was at my side when we faced the 'Butcher of Toshi Ranbo', and I helped him achieve the position of Sapphire Magistrate. Despite his complete lack of empathy for anyone below his social status (perhaps the purpose of our kharmic link), he is undoubtedly the most honourable member of the group, and a credit to the Crane. We stood alone during the Magistrate Test. So be it. Miya Shikan visited a neutral Clan and Ken'ichi became Sapphire Magistrate. My duty to Clan was fulfilled and honour victorious.
I had hoped that our recent visit to the City of Lies would have brought the group closer together. Bayushi Ichizo was born within those corruption-stained walls, whilst he revels in such conditions I had hoped that it may have focused Isawa Satomi on Scorpion deceptions. Unfortunately it seemed to have the opposite effect, with her visiting various courts within the city with an eye to a future husband.
Since then, what little harmony that existed between magistrates has further eroded. Since our journey back from the City of Lies, Ichizo has been strangely quiet, no doubt hoping to avoid any investigations into his plots. Worse still though was the Crab openly accusing Satomi of cheating during the White Orchid Tournament, unsurprisingly she took great offence at such accusations from a fellow samurai.
Fortunately before such problems get out of hand she has been recalled to Phoenix lands to attend to duties along the coast. I have also returned to my home territories in an effort to dampen the fires of war. Since the murder of Kitsuki Tanako the more militant Dragons have sought vengeance against the Badger Clan. Believing the minor clan innocent of the crime, I have returned to the High House of Light in an attempt to bring a peaceful resolution to the situation.
My courtier skills are perhaps not what they might be and it remains to be seen if the Dragons will go to war. On a more personal level, several courtiers from rival Clans have been gossiping in court. Claims that I murdered two children in cold blood are not totally correct. Whilst it is a fact that I took the lives of two boys, both were possessed by spirits of great power. Indeed, Koe (a young monk) was in the grip of the Obsidian Dragon itself. The truth of the matter is that breaking his neck was a compassionate act, saving him from a fate worse than death.
Despite such temporal difficulties, I believe my spiritual advancement may well have taken a further step towards Enlightenment. I have gained something of a spiritual advisor in the shape of Bayushi Nishari, a Scorpion (although born a Unicorn) trapped in the Realm of Thwarted Destiny. She warned me of the horror planned by the Obsidian Dragon and seems to be on a quest of sorts to regain her honour, as when alive she allowed her husband to live despite his great corruption. Now she walks by my side, always pushing me towards the honourable course of action. I have no doubt her advice will be valuable it the difficult times ahead.
Bayushi Nishari has also suggested that the Talisman of Yume-do may well be having a previously un-noticed effect on me. In an attempt to provide for my emotional needs, the realm of Yume-do has began to draw my waking self into it, providing me with glimpses of my imagined family. Whilst I have not noticed any changes, I am reliably informed that I now spend more time day-dreaming and drifting away during quiet moments. I do not believe there is any malice intended, but should such meanderings occur at the wrong time, it could prove problematic.
Or perhaps not. During the recent Winter Court where Kenichi's wife to be was killed, I met a young witch-hunter by the name of Kuni Aya. She was an oracle of sorts and often racked by powerful visions. Indeed she had such a vision during the court and it was obvious that the gift was burning out her soul, it was only a matter of time before she would be consumed. After a series of meditations, it became clear to me that it was in fact a shard of Yume-do that was causing her visions. As was fortold by Bayushi Nishari, I had met a person whose need for the protection of the Talisman was greater than mine. After placing the Talisman around her neck, her pain was relieved, and whilst she now would be well advised not to remove it, I believe her life is no longer threatened. Her parting gift was a chilling prophecy that bore a strong resemblance to the words of the 'crazed' begger in the Burning Sands. The truth of their words remains to be seen.
Although it was not part of the terrible prophecy, disaster struck during a trip to consecrate a temple in Crab lands. Toritaka Yamamiya had finally determined the source of his family curse, one of his ancestors had sworn to build a temple to honour a great mountain kami, but had failed to do so. Yamamiya was attempting to fulfil his ancestors promise, with his usual run of bad luck. When the temple was finally built, a Brotherhood monk, Isawa Satomi and myself attempted to consecrate the shrine. Unfortunately, Satomi was perhaps unused to such long prayer vigils and fell asleep on only the second day. The wrath of the mountain kami was awful to behold. Earthquakes and avalanches of rock killed all the peasants that had helped build the temple, along with the building itself. As the Fortunes would have it, somehow Yamamiya survived, although it is now difficult to see how he can break his curse. I would be delighted to return in order to attempt the consecration again, but even if the kami allowed it, the cost of the building runs to dozens of koku. A sad outcome indeed.
The princes are dead, and whilst we saved Totori Chisa, there was nothing to celebrate as the heirs to the Empire are no more. To make matters worse the Emperor himself rebuked me for 'wasting the opportunities I have given you and gallivanting around the Empire'. Although it later became clear he had mistaken me for his son, Toturi Hizatoru.
Following the funeral of the twins the Emperor had a vision that may hold the key to saving the Empire. As part of the efforts to decipher it, we travelled to the Mantis Isles to visit the Oracle of Water and each asked a single question. As the other magistrates' questions had provided the relevant information, I indulged in a more personal query. Whilst the Oracle was most forthcoming, I will not speak of what I learned here. The trail eventually led to Toturi XI, who now resides in the Shrine of Shinsei. He gave a box to Kenichi and asked him to pass it on to his son. This apparently simple request proved problematic as when we returned to the capital, Mika Shikan interecepted us before we could speak to the Light of Heaven and requested to pass on the box to the Emperor himself. Kenichi used a great deal of courtly speak and politely refused.
The Imperial Herald does not easily forget such things and has arranged for all magistrates to undergo special training at Shinsei's Last Hope, a settlement beyond the Wall and within the Shadowlands. I could not hide a resigned smile as our group was the first to be given such an opportunity. It was even worse than I had first thought however, as winter was coming and so our tour of duty lasted for over three months. My frustration was great, as just when I had pressing concerns to deal with, I was isolated far from civilisation.
The decision has been made and we will see where the Fortunes take me from here. After much deliberation and soul-searching I declined the Mirumoto daimyoship. I trust in the words of Shinsei, and hope that by truly understanding myself I can truly understand the family. Only then will the Mirumoto achive their potential. I place my trust in Togashi Setsuo, an ancient monk who has passed the responsibility for the newly returned Thunder Mountain Dojo to myself.
Before his long anticipated seppuku, Mirumoto Jinzaki publically acknowledged me as his son. I now carry his daisho and pray I can wield it with honour. His last request was that I accept the guardianship of a puzzle box, and only open it if the future of the Empire is in grave doubt. An unexpected request, but I will guard the box with my life.
During the last days of 1507 it became clear that Togashi Imasu had been possessed by the Avatar of Obsidian. It was as I had long suspected, but would not admit to myself, and the Avatar's malign influence was crippling the Tattooed Orders. Kakita Kenichi and myself confronted the abomination in the shattered remains of the Champion's quarters. Kenichi extolled the tenets of bushido, whilst I argued that Imasu's sins were not irredeemable and there remains hope for the Empire (strangely mirroring a conversation with my father). Our pleas did not fall on deaf ears and Imasu briefly broke free of the Avatar's influence, begging for death. Whilst his body perished, his soul took refuge in Otomo Torakage and thus was freed. Imasu now leads the Clan again and I hope he can rein in some of Mirumoto Daicabe's more aggresive plans.
On the very last day of winter court Kakita Kenichi requested that I act as his guide and show him some of the more impressive mountain vistas that the Dragon lands are famous for. I was delighted to accept, as I know of several locations that are conducive to meditation, one waterfall in particular holds good memories. However, something strikes me as odd. Kenichi has never before indicated an interest in the Dragon mountains, quite the opposite in fact. I can but hope it is a sign of his growing acceptance of the Tattooed Orders.
Rumours of my demise were greatly exaggerated. With the aid of Kenichi, i faked my own death in a bid to avoid the attentions of Miya Shikan. Whilst our plan was not entirely successful, with Kenichi being forced to adopt ronin status for a short time, we were eventually able to determine the location of Shikans’ undead heart. After running the gauntlet of a truly difficult set of protective traps and guards, we reached the inner sanctum, performed the deathseeker ritual and his heart decayed before our eyes. Shikan collapsed and died in court, and while the Empire will remain ignorant of our sacrifices, a great threat to Rokugan has been vanquished.
The Emperor is dead and the Empire in chaos. The legitimacy of all his children, with the exception of Chisa-sama is doubtful, confirmed by the Emperor himself during a conversation the evening before his death. I opened Jinzaki’s puzzle box and it contained his written testimony, confirming his affair with Amika-sama and that i was the first of their children. Following Jinzaki’s last wish, I read his testimony aloud in the Imperial Court, adding that the only child certain to be of Imperial blood was Chisa-sama. Predictably, the Clans immediately fell upon each other, each attempting to manoeuvre their favoured child into taking the throne. The choice seems clear to me, the Emperor was only sure of Chisa-sama, therefore she should take the throne. Her soul is pure and she would be a glorious Empress. However, the words of a bastard count for nought in the Imperial Court, and the courtiers continue to play their games. Otomo Kasuga says that a decision will be made soon. While he deliberates, Rokugan burns.
I had not thought it possible, but the Empire has fallen deeper into despair. Hizatoru and Chisa-sama are dead, killed on Akodo Gintaku’s orders. Unbelievably, Gintaku then committed a greater crime. He sacrificed his own son in a foul maho ritual to bring the Jade Dragon crashing to earth, bound in black chains. Using an ancient blade he then proceeded to murder the Sun, and the sky bled.
I cannot put into words the chaos that followed, but amongst the carnage I received a vision that suggested a flicker of hope, that the Sun could be re-born. Battling our way to the Celestial Heavens, we finally stood before the truly awesome Celestial Dragon. As mortals had created the imbalance, then only mortals could restore it. Such a feat was possible, but it would require a great sacrifice. We all stood firm and the cost was paid.
However, I was asked to pay the greatest price. The Celestial Dragon appeared to me in one of his alternate forms, that of Togashi Setsuo. The Dragon had visited me on the eve of the decision concerning the Mirumoto daimyoship, softly guiding me away from such temporal concerns. Of course, the Dragon has correct, and such problems of the past seem so petty now, although they once wracked me with indecision.
The Dragon reached out and burnt out my kiho, my slivers of enlightenment, my tattoos, and I give willingly. The sins of my parents was the genesis of the celestial imbalance, and it is only right that I make a small step towards correcting it.
As I was reborn in the Celestial Dragon’s light, so the Jade Dragon was reborn and I awoke back in Rokugan. I am but a shell of the man I was, and we are surrounded by the forces of the Traitor and the armies of the Shadowlands. Hope still flickers, as a pain in my chest draws my attention to my final tattoo, a new tattoo, that of a Jade Dragon.