Kyuden Caerdydd - Champions of the Sapphire Throne
Shadows of Beiden
After several reports of strange disappearances during the re-opening of Beiden Pass, the group were sent to investigate. Kaiu Kiseki, the chief engineer for the project, explained that the number of disappearances had increased recently and was sending Miya Annai into the pass to determine what was happening. The group accompanied Annai and soon found evidence that the previous scouts had been murdered. The murderer turned out to be Yogo Ato, a Scorpion shugenja who believed it was still the 12th Century and he was on a secret mission for his clan. The group succeeded in defeating Ato allowing work on the Emperor’s Great Road to continue
• The group also encountered an ogre during their journey through Beiden Pass. When he attempted to scare off the group rather than attack them, it was decided that negotiating with the ogre may be possible. Introducing himself as Seki, the ogre explained that he had been living in the mountains for a long time and had been hiding from the increased number of humans in the area. Kakita Kenichi was able to convince Seki to leave as the re-opening of the pass would bring more samurai who would try to kill him. Despite the apparent civilized nature of this ogre, Kenichi’s attitude to the problem was very unusual, and rumours of his unorthodox methods have begun to spread.
• Mirumoto Kane speculated that Yogo Ato may not be insane or have lived in the pass for over 300 years, suggesting that he may have been possessed by one of the spirits released from Traitor’s Grove several years earlier. As Ato was killed during their encounter, it is unlikely that the group will know the truth behind Ato’s behaviour.
• Following the death of Kakita Fujimura over the winter, Doji Mizuki has been chosen to be the new go grandmaster. While Mizuki is a talented go player, there are many who believe that Kamato should be grandmaster, and is only prevented from doing so because of his status as a monk.
• Several shugenja were killed and more injured when crates of fireworks exploded prematurely at the recent New Year’s Celebration in Kyuden Isawa. The shugenja responsible for the fireworks, Agasha Orito, was later found dead at her home. Magistrates investigating the incident found the kanji for “Your lies will not be Forgotten” carved into the floorboards near her body
City of Empty Dreams
The group arrived at Shiro Shiba and were informed that arrangements had been made for them to accompany Isawa Akima, the Mistress of the Void, to the legendary City of Empty Dreams. The city took several days of sea voyage to find, but eventually the group arrived and began exploring. Entering a domed building at the centre of the city, the group were presented with visions of important events of their recent past. Isawa Akima was driven mad by the visions, revealing her affiliation with the Sons of Destiny. The group were able to defeat Akima and returned to the mainland.
City of Empty Dreams
• Kakita Kenichi later learned that Shiba Ninto, the Phoenix Clan Champion, had arranged for the group to accompany Akima. Ninto had suspected that Akima had secret motivations for seeking the City of Empty Dreams and, knowing of the group’s unorthodox methods for dealing with problems, he arranged for the group to join the expedition.
• While viewing the visions of the past, each member of the group was confronted with an important moment in their recent path. The fact that all times exist within the City of Empty Dreams allowed Hida Kengo and Bayushi Ichizo to manipulate the events of their past in small ways to avoid moments of personal loss. While the rest of the group only remember the altered history, Kengo and Ichizo are both aware that they have changed what once happened and must now live with the decisions they have made.
• Immediately after viewing images of their past, the group was confronted with an image of their future. They saw the Imperial capital, Toshi Ranbo, its buildings burning and its walls shattered. Around them could be heard the screams of the dying as armies of samurai swarmed into the city. Before anyone in the group could determine who was attacking the city, the vision ended.
• After defeating Akima, one of the City’s guardians approached Hida Kengo and presented him with a mempo saying that he would need it in the future.
While visiting the Shrine of the Two Heroes in Crater Village the group met Shosuro (Kochako) Kiyome, who was returning home for an arranged marriage. That evening, everyone’s drinks were poisoned and a group of unknown assailants attacked Kiyome but were defeated by the group. Kiyome explained she had been targeted by a number of attacks in recent weeks and the group agreed to protect her on her journey. Arriving at Kiyome’s home, the group discovered the same assailants had murdered the entire population of the village, including every other member of the Kochako vassal family. Defeating the final assailants, the group escorted Kiyome to Nihai Tower so she could report what had happened to the Shosuro daimyo, Shosuro Hido
Shosuro (Kockako) Kiyome
• Mirumoto Kane noticed that the fighting style and weaponry of the assailants was similar to that used by the Spider Clan monks the group had encountered previously.
• After surviving an attack in Ryoko Owari, the group met Hitomi Fuguki and Hitomi Choujo. While Fuguki made little sense during the encounter, he did warn Bayushi Ichizo that he should not have made the choice he made.
• Bayushi Ichizo revealed that the Kochako vassal family was responsible for internal security within the Scorpion Clan and it would seem likely that their near destruction has been orchestrated to prevent a traitor or infiltrator within the Scorpion being discovered.
• While the rest of the group were helping Kiyome against the assassins, Soshi Satomi continued her investigation into Chigitsu’s past and the recent attacks on Phoenix shugenja. Speaking to Isawa Tsutakito and his father, Isawa Tadaka, Satomi learned that Tadaka had been stealing Clan secrets and selling them to rival clans. When a magistrate investigation led by Isawa Ishikawa, Satomi’s father, came close to discovering Tadaka’s crime, he testified that he had seen Isawa Suma, Chigitsu’s father, steal the secrets. Suma had his ability to commune with the kami removed in the ritual of Forgetting and was exiled from the Clan together with his family. Chigitsu had arranged for everyone involved to be present at the same time and attacked the group, but Satomi was able to convince him that, as a magistrate, he would ensure Tadaka paid for his crimes. Satisfied that his father had been avenged, Chigitsu committed seppuku.
The Eve of War
During spring, final attempts were made by both the Crab and Scorpion Clans to gain support for the upcoming war.
• Word from Crab lands indicates that Gojiro has given the order for a large amount of Kuni shugenja to join his armies for the battle. This decision apparently angered Kuni Yuriko, the Kuni daimyo, who claims this will badly deplete the garrisons on the Wall.
• The Lion Clan applied pressure on the Phoenix Clan to provide support to their allies in the Crab Clan. The Phoenix reluctantly agreed and have sent troops to support Hida Gojiro’s army at Shiro Usagi, but these are mainly water shugenja that will provide healing to the reserves. There were also rumours that the Phoenix have agreed to send troops to defend the Wall during this period
• The Crane Clan, who many thought would remain out of the war due to their non-aggression pact with the Crab, surprised everyone by sending troops to support the Hare Clan. The Crane, shocked at the Crab’s aggression against a minor clan felt they could not remain neutral in this conflict and chose to stand with their allies in the Dragon Clan
• Expecting further conflict with the Crab Clan, the Crane have offered a gift of rice to the Sparrow Clan if they will act as a buffer between them and the Crab. The Dragon also pledged to support the Sparrow if the Crab attack, effectively brining the Sparrow into the Dragon-Crane-Unicorn alliance
• The Mantis Clan decided to side with the Hare Clan in exchange for extensive trade agreements between them and the Scorpion and Crane Clans.
• While the Unicorn are allied with both the Dragon and the Crane, their Champion, Moto Temujin, sent minimal support to the Hare Clan, instead promising to provide greater support to the Dragon and Crane in the future. As both anticipate wars with the Lion and Crab Clans respectively, they agreed to these terms.
• The ronin army being formed by Maeda Kenchu were approached by representatives of the Scorpion Clan, hoping they would support the Hare but Kenchu refused to join the battle, sending the following message back: To the Crab, the Hare represents a bothersome fly that has entered their home and now they will swat them with their tetsubo. Maybe the fly will survive. Maybe it dies. It does not matter what happens to the fly, as it is the state of the Crab’s home once the fly has been dealt with that is important.
The Siege of Shiro Usagi
While many smaller battles were fought over the initial months of summer, the Crab’s war against the Hare came to an end during midsummer.
• Shortly before the Crab forces arrived at Shiro Usagi, Bayushi Tenkai, the Scorpion General in charge of the Hare Clan’s defence, ordered the fields around Shiro Usagi flooded. This served two purposes; firstly, the heavily armoured Crab bushi would be slowed in their progress. Secondly, the mud would render the Crab’s famed siege engines unusable.
• The battle initially went badly for the Crab; unable to push forward as quickly as they would like, their front lines came under attack from the Hare Clan’s archers, resulting in heavy losses. What made this worse is that Tenkai launched an attack on the Crab reserves shortly afterwards, destroying much of their supplies.
• Unable to use the siege engines he had planned on and running short on supplies, Gojiro orders his reserves forward to put pressure on the enemy defences.
• While the Crab lose many of their bushi to these tactics, it was this sudden surge that turned the tide of battle in Gojiro’s favour: a squadron of Crab bushi attacked Tenkai’s command group and managed to kill the enemy general. With the loss of their command, the defending troops began to rout and Gojiro’s forces moved to surround the castle.
• The end of the battle came when Gojiro’s shugenja succeeded in a ritual to destroy the walls of Shiro Usagi. With the defences shattered and the defending armies retreating from the field of battle, Gojiro ordered his troops to seize the castle. Many Hare bushi, including their Clan Champion, Usagi Hirota, die in the attack, but their sacrifice allows the Scorpion Clan time to get the rest of the Hare ruling family to safety.
• With the Crab Clan occupying the ruins of Shiro Usagi, the Hare Clan make a number of concessions to prevent further military action against them. Chief amongst these is that they will allow the Crab to be the sole sponsor of their proposed shugenja school. This seems to appease Gojiro, who orders his troops to leave Hare lands and return home.
• Shortly after the battle, the Hare appoint Hirota’s son, Usagi Nokamo, as daimyo.
• Due to their involvement in the defence of Shiro Usagi, the Crane have broken their non-aggression pact with the Crab. Gojiro has promised retribution for their actions and it looks likely that a Crab / Crane war may be on the horizon.
• The battle also saw the first time that the Dragon and Lion Clans have fought since the War of Bleeding Flowers and it is believed that Mirumoto Daikabe may use this as an excuse to gain revenge.
After a meeting with Hoshi Karasu, the Jade Magistrate known more popularly as “The Crow”, the group investigated a series of villages in Lion lands that had been suffering from an extended period of drought. It became apparent that the villages had been cursed by the kami of a nearby lake after a Lion shugenja had been killed by a gang of ronin. The group were able to locate the surviving members of the gang and appeased the kami with their deaths.
Sakuba no Mura
• The group were helped in their search by Yoshi, a former member of the ronin gang. Out of remorse for his actions, Yoshi had been helping the villagers of Sakuba no Mura to survive. Yoshi willingly committed seppuku to appease the kami of the lake and Kakita Kenichi agreed to keep his katana safe until his unborn son comes of age.
• The village of Sakura seemed to be coping a lot better than the other villages and, speaking to the ronin Sashi, the group learned that a mysterious woman had visited him, promising to undo the curse placed on the valley. She gave him a gray pearl and told him to place it in a pool of water at the head of the nearby river. The waters began flowing once again and the village believed itself saved. However, the group noticed that many of the villagers were showing symptoms of the Shadowlands Taint. Hoshi Karasu took custody of the pearl and the group arranged for the villagers to be killed to prevent the Taint spreading.
Following the prophesies of Kuni Aya, the group travel to the ruins of Nanashi Mura. There they met Kaiu Sumata who was searching for a wakizashi belonging to Takuan, a hero from the 12th Century. The sword was eventually found, but the group were confronted by forces of both the Lion and Unicorn Clans demanding the sword for themselves. To make matters worse, a group of Spider Clan monks attacked at the same time and attempted to steal the sword. The group were able to defeat the monks but were unable to prevent Akodo Kiresu, the leader of the Lion forces, defeating Mirumoto Kane in battle and taking the sword.
• During the negotiations as to who would claim the sword, it became apparent that something was affecting people’s thoughts. Both commanders of the Lion and Unicorn armies refused to listen to rational arguments allowing the group to keep the sword. Kane and Hida Kengo both felt urges to attack the leaders of the armies. While members of the group suspected that the sword may have somehow been responsible this was not confirmed
• Kane revealed to the group the letter he had received from Kuni Aya months earlier, indicating that someone they would meet in “the place with no name” would be instrumental to their future success. From the events at Nanashi Mura, literally meaning no-name village, it would seem that Sumata is the person destined to help the group.
Touch of Obsidian
Summoned to Kyuden Miya, the group were tasked with finding Kuni Aya and returning her to be protected by the Imperial Herald. Knowing that Aya would be in the company of her grandfather, Kuni Otango, the group headed to Shiro Kitsuki where he was competing in a go tournament. The group were successful in finding Aya but she died shortly afterwards, having delivered her final prophecy to Rokugan. Following the words of this prophecy, the group journeyed to the Shrine of the Three Sisters and confronted the Avatar of Obsidian.
The Shrine of the Three Sisters
The Avatar of Obsidian
• The Avatar of Obsidian confronted each member of the group with the sins of their pasts or events where they had acted outside the code of Bushido. All of the group were able to maintain their composure and deny the Avatar’s claims. During this confrontation, Soshi Satomi learned that Shinjo Akujin was actually Moto Yoshi in disguise but it remains to be seen if she will inform the rest of the group due to the events of their encounter
• Having been unable to corrupt any of the group, the Avatar of Obsidian left the area. Just before he went, both Mirumoto Kane and Kakita Kenichi noticed that the Avatar’s body was covered in tattoos reminiscent of those of the tattooed men of the Dragon Clan.
• During their time in Kyuden Miya, Kenichi was approached by Miya Shikan who explained that, with Kazuma fighting him in the courts and war having returned to Rokugan, he needed something to give him an edge against those who would damage the peace he has crafted. These plans involved the creation of the Sapphire Champion to command the Sapphire Magistrates, a position Kenichi seemed quite taken with.
Winter Court: Toshi Ranbo
• The main Winter Court this year was held in the Imperial Capital and saw Miya Shikan attempting to negotiate peace between the Dragon and Lion Clans. In late autumn, a series of skirmishes and violent clashes occurred between the two Clans. At the end of the year, the Lion occupy the Dragon village of Usoema Mura and the Dragon hold the Lion village of Namaida. Otomo Kazuma managed to block Shikan’s attempts, and the two Clans look likely to continue these aggressions next year
• In addition to the main negotiations, Shikan and Kazuma seemed to be playing some sort of game, setting difficult and often impossible tasks of the other samurai present. Some report having had help in these tasks from a mendicant nun who disappeared shortly after the negotiations were completed
• While he was unsuccessful negotiating peace between the Lion and Dragon Clans, Shikan did manage to arrange a treaty with the Crane Clan to protect the Minor Clans from further unwarranted aggression. The Crane have agreed to protect the Minor Clans interests on the battlefield and in court, and Shikan has arranged for the Minor Clans to foster some of their children to the Crane.
• Rumours from Unicorn lands suggest that Shinjo Kotoku, the Shinjo daimyo, has left the Clan to return to the Burning Sands, apparently to find his roots. In Kotoku’s absence, Shinjo Najamura will act as damiyo and leader of the Baranghuar army.
• There were reports from samurai from all the Clans of having encountered the Avatar of Obsidian during the final months of the year. In all cases, the Avatar seemed to test the samurai in question, although few were willing to reveal the results of these tests.
• Since the death of his twin sons several years ago, the Emperor has greatly reduced his involvement in the Empire’s rule, allowing Shikan and Kazuma to make many of the decisions on his behalf. Over the years there have been discussions as to who the Emperor should name as his heir, but this year the Mantis delegates actually spoke out in Winter Court, suggesting that the future of the Empire could be ensured if the Emperor would provide official confirmation. As the Mantis are training Toturi Hizatoru, the Emperor’s eldest surviving and eligible son (Toturi Gendo is older but unsuitable to the role due to his joining the Brotherhood of Shinsei), this would put them in an extremely favourable position. The Crane were quick to speak against this, suggesting that the Emperor honour Toturi Yukihime, his eldest child, with being his heir. Tradition usually dictates that the eldest son inherits, but the ascension of Toturi Tsudao in the twelfth century is an example where a more suitable female child inherited. There was no word from the Emperor or either of the Emperor’s Chosen.