Kyuden Caerdydd - Champions of the Sapphire Throne
Summoned to Justice
At the request of Miya Shikan, Kakita Kenichi was asked to investigate rumours of a gaijin seen in the northern Empire. The group were able to track the gaijin to the Three Sides River where a team of Kaiu samurai were building a bridge to link the two great roads. When they eventually found the gaijin, a Senpet man named Saphiru, he revealed himself to be a member of the Doomseekers. Before Kenichi could learn why he was in the Empire, Miya Hanzu attacked and killed Saphiru, and then turned on Kenichi, who had revealed his own Doomseeker amulet. Realising the Hanzu had undergone the khadi ritual and could not be killed, Kenichi left the camp before he could be apprehended by Miya Reisei.
City of the Honored Treaty
• During the investigation into the gaijin, the group learned that he had been asking about the Shrine to the Fortune of Peace, specifically who had built it. The architect of the Shrine, Kaiu Shigemori, had also been in charge of the bridge construction project, but had died shortly before the group arrived. Kaiu Sumata, one of Shigemori’s students, discovered a partially completed letter in amongst Shigemori’s belongings that mentioned the architecture of the ancient Empire. Sumata promised to look into this further.
• Suzume Mako, Doji Reikan and Soshi Ogura were all arrested for their assault on Miya Hanzu. When questioned about Hanzu’s regeneration she claimed that the Seppun Hidden Guard had cast spells on both of them to protect them from harm.
• Reikan was able to find a senpet scroll belonging to Saphiru before his arrest, and gave it to Kenichi. Unable to read Senpet, Kenichi took the scroll with him when he left the camp.
• There was some speculation into the actual cause of death of Kaiu Shigemori. The official cause of death was drowning after falling into the river while drunk but some black silk found under his nails and a bruise on his chest indicated he may have been attacked. Hanzu’s attack prevented further investigation being completed so it is unlikely the truth of the matter will ever be known.
At the request of the Lion Clan, Soshi Satomi and her group of Jade Magistrates travelled to Kyotei Valley for the dedication ceremony of a new shrine to Inari. Upon arrival at the town of Chikuzen, it became apparent that the peasants were angry about recent tax increases. Speaking with Matsu Toshu, the governor of Chikuzen, the group learned that a bandit known as “Kougi” had been encouraging the peasants to revolt. Satomi was contacted by “Kougi” who convinced her to investigate the governor and his magistrate, Kitsu Shioneru, as he suspected they were keeping some of the taxes for themselves. A search of Shioneru’s house turned up a ledger detailing the pair’s illegal activities and the group were able to enlist a local Emerald Magistrate to convict them. Despite their success in uncovering the governor’s crimes, the group were unable to prevent the bandits from disrupting the ceremony.
• The group’s investigation into “Kougi” determined that he had raided a number of tax collections but, until recently there had been no deaths from the attacks. From speaking to the survivors of the most recent attack, the group learned that “Kougi” had not been present for that attack, and, instead, it was a group of bandits that had attacked. “Kougi” later confirmed to Satomi that he had inadvertently influenced the peasants to revolt through his desire to end the increased taxation and they had been carrying out the attacks where people had died
• The bandits were located by Satomi’s group within the forests surrounding Chikuzen. Satomi decided not to attack the bandits or ask the authorities for help, preferring instead to investigate Toshu and Shioneru. Due to this, the bandits were not apprehended before the celebrations, allowing them to attack the shrine
• The identity of “Kougi” was never determined. From his appearance and equipment he was clearly not a peasant and none of the local ronin matched his description. Even the name “Kougi” is likely false as it means “justice” in Rokugani.
Nemesis of Justice
Attempting to keep a low profile, Bayushi Ichizo arranged for the Hida Kengo and their group of magistrates to undertake a patrol around Scorpion Clan lands. Arriving at the city of Pokau, the group were recruited by Usagi Hayai to investigate the death of Ide Kyosuke, a Unicorn diplomat. The group learned that Kyosuke had a rivalry with Shinjo Keichi as both wished to marry the same woman, Yogo Rika. On the night of the murder, the pair had argued and Kyosuke had left the inn. Keichi followed a short while later and Kyosuke was found dead the next morning. Hayai had a different view, having found testimony that Rika was responsible. Believing that Hayai was wrong, Ichizo questioned his verdict resulting in a duel to the death, which Ichizo won. Keichi was convicted of the crime and executed the following day.
• In an attempt to avoid being found by Miya Shikan, Mirumoto Kane disguised himself as a Scorpion magistrate, assuming the name Bayushi Kage. As Kane has little in the way of disguise skills it remains to be seen how successful this approach will be.
• Shortly after the group left Pokau, Unicorn troops marched through Seiketsu Pass and took control of the city. Rumours state that the Khan believes that the Scorpion were responsible for the death of the two Unicorn and manipulated the situation to lay blame on the Unicorn. With the Unicorn Clan already at war with the Phoenix, many believe that a war on two fronts will stretch the Khan’s armies too thin to be successful in either.
• The group met with Hoshi Haitoku during their stay in Pokau. Haitoku provided most of the group with prayer beads to help their meditations. Those that had these beads received a dream a few days after the events in Pokau and encountered Hiruma Kyojitsu, a spirit who offered to guide whoever desired his help. Hida Kengo and Daidoji Kojima accepted Kyojitsu’s help.
A Summer of War
Crab Clan vs. Crane Clan
• The Crab continued to force their way through Crane lands, routing the Crane armies in Ichigun province. During the battle, the Crane duelist, Doji Matsui, faced off against the Crab duelist Yasuki Koruma. The pair had previously met during the semi-finals of the Emerald Championship in 1500, where they had a tense duel with neither willing to give up, even after first blood had been achieved. In this duel, Matsui proved the better of the two, almost cutting Koruma in half with his initial blow. However, Matsui underestimated the Crab’s resilience, and Koruma managed to hold on long enough to grab Matsui by the throat, crushing his windpipe.
• To boost his chances of success against the Crane, Hida Gojiro ordered additional Crab troops from the Great Wall to join his attacking armies. Word from Crab provinces is that Kuni Yuriko, the aging Kuni Daimyo, publically questioned Gojiro’s decision to weaken the Wall’s defences but Gojiro refused to discuss his decision further.
• As part of their commitment to the Golden Alliance, the Unicorn send troops south into Crab lands to disrupt the flow of supplies to the front line. Shiro Toritaka came under attack and the Unicorn succeeded in setting a number of fires that completely destroyed the castle. The Toritaka daimyo, Toritaka Tenkei, managed to escape, despite his blindness, and succeeded in rescuing a few of the family’s prized falcons before the fires claimed the rest of his home.
Dragon Clan vs. Lion Clan
• The Dragon, having succeeded in reclaiming the town of Toi Koku from the Lion last year, set out to attack Lion lands. They were met by a Lion army led by the Akodo family daimyo, Akodo Gintaku, and his general Akodo Mako. Gintaku’s forces manage to win with few casualties, almost killing the entire Dragon army. Those that survived retreated to Dragon lands, unable to continue holding Toi Koku. Reports state that Mako fought with an unmatched ferocity, shrugging off blows that would kill most men. It is thought doubtful that the Dragon will be able to continue their offensive next year due to lack of troop and it remains to be seen if the Lion will launch a retributive strike against the Dragon.
Phoenix Clan vs. Unicorn Clan
• The Baranghuar army of the Unicorn assaulted the Phoenix city of Nikesake this summer. The Phoenix armies, led by the Clan Champion, Shiba Ninto, faced off against the enemy cavalry and succeed in causing heavy losses to the Unicorn but it costs Ninto’s life. Due to the ease of sending troops to attack the Phoenix, the Unicorn are likely to attempt further attacks as the year progresses.
Scorpion Clan vs. Unicorn Clan
• As well as attacking the Phoenix, the Khan declared war on the Scorpion Clan earlier this year. Troops headed through Seikitsu Pass and, by the end of summer, the Unicorn controled the city of Pokau. Soon after this, further troops began moving further into Scorpion territories and it looks like Ryoko Owari will be the next target
Answering a request for help from Kaiu Sumata, Bayushi Ichizo, Togashi Kane and Kakita Kenichi travelled to the City of the Honored Treaty in Phoenix lands. Sumata explained that he had found Kaiu Shigimori’s notes on the construction of the Shrine to Peace and they indicated a series of secret chambers beneath the main temple. Realising this was likely the hiding place for Miya Shikan’s heart, the group gained access to these tunnels via a secret door built into the statue of Toturi the Pious. Navigating their way through numerous traps, the group arrived at the Shrine to Eternal Peace and came under attack from Miya Hanzu and Tsuruchi Shin who had been dispatched to stop them. The group were able to defeat the pair and performed the Senpet rituals necessary to destroy Shikan’s heart.
City of the Honored Treaty
• Now able to resume their identities and role as magistrates, Kenichi and Kane returned to their homes. News soon reached them that Miya Shikan had died of a heart attack while in the Emperor’s court. Shikan’s body was burned in a formal state funeral a few days later with many of the Empire’s Clan Champions and family daimyo in attendance. Notable by their absence are Moto Temujin, Akodo Gintaku and Hida Gojiro, Clan Champions of the Unicorn, Lion, and Crab Clans respectively.
• In the same box as Shikan’s heart were two other hearts. The group destroyed these as well. It became instantly apparent that one of these hearts was Hanzu’s as his regeneration ceased as soon as it was destroyed. It was later learned that Miya Reisei had alos died at the same time as Shikan and it is assumed the third heart belonged to her.
• During their search of the tunnels, the group discovered the bodies of Suzume Mako, Doji Reikan and Soshi Ogura. The cause of death appeared to have been removal of their hearts, but, unlike Shikan, Hanzu, and Reisei, none of them appeared to have become khadi.
A Long Journey
Following the visions of Kuni Aya, Bayushi Ichizo arranged for Hida Kengo and a selection of the group’s trainee magistrates to accompany the Tortoise Clan to the foreign land of Sianzhu. Kasuga Magoro, the Tortoise Clan daimyo, explained that there had been a number of suspicious meetings between the Mantis Clan and the Thrane and they suspected the two groups were planning to place Toturi Hizatoru on the Throne. The group managed to eavesdrop on a conversation between a Thrane commander and Yoritomo Ogawa, one of the Mantis Clan’s most famed sensei, and discovered that they were planning some sort of military action within Rokugan that involved Toshi Ranbo.
• The Mantis Clan knew of the Tortoise Clan’s intentions and attempted to kill the group using Rhuumal assassins. Following this attack, the group were able to speak to the person who hired the assassins, a merchant named Suyon, who gave the group the information needed to track down Ogawa’s meeting place with the Thrane.
• Kengo’s group were able to make it back to their ship and set sail for Rokugan just ahead of the Thranish fleet and attempted to bring warning to the Imperial Court of the impending attack
The Battle for Toshi Ranbo
The joint Mantis and Thrane fleet sailed up the Drowned Merchant River and occupied the capital of Toshi Ranbo. Fortunately, Hida Kengo’s warning arrived in time to allow Otomo Kazuma to evacuate the Emperor to Kyuden Seppun. Messengers from the Imperial City relay the message that the Thrane demand that the Emperor abdicate the throne in favour of Toturi Hizatoru.
Kazuma announced that the Emperor had agreed to meet with diplomats from the Mantis and Thrane, allowing them to advocate Hizatoru’s claim. However, when Hizatoru’s representatives arrive, led by Sven Oldarsson and Yoritomo Ogawa, the Emperor address the assembled samurai and explains that he had known for some time that his wife, Toturi Amika, had been unfaithful, and he could not be certain that Hizatoru was actually of Imperial blood. As such, he would not validate his claim.
Yoritomo Rinsei, the Mantis Clan Champion, immediately reaffirms his clan’s loyalty to the Emperor and orders that Ogawa and his family commit seppuku for their part in the coup. Sven Oldarsson refuses to relinquish control of Toshi Ranbo and the Thrane take Hizatoru hostage. The Emperor leads the limited number of available samurai in an attack on the Thrane. While the Rokugani are successful in retaking the Imperial City, the Emperor dies under musket fire.
In the aftermath of the invasion, the Thrane Government disavow Sven Oldarsson’s actions and Daniel Hatcherman takes Oldarsson back to his own lands for execution.
Mirumoto Kane announced that the Empress’ affair had been with his father, Mirumoto Jinzaki, and that it covered the period of time during which the majority of the Emperor’s children were born. The only child definitely not born of this union is Toturi Chisa, and Kane petitioned that she be named the official heir.
Otomo Kazuma took control of the situation, explaining that while Kane’s announcement raised doubts as to the other children’s legitimacy, they may still be of Imperial Blood and he could not eliminate them based on speculation. Depsite the announcement, each of the Great Clans side with their own chosen heirs
• The Crane announce their support of Toturi Yukihime, the eldest child and wife of Daidoji Kowaru
• The Mantis maintain their support of Toturi Hizatoru, the eldest male child
• The Crab pledge their support to Toturi Kobe, despite having no traditional right to the Throne being the youngest son
• The Dragon agree with Kane and support Toturi Chisa
• The Phoenix choose to support whoever the Imperial Families wish to put forward.
• The Lion, Scorpion and Unicorn do not announce who they will support. It is believed that the Scorpion will announce support for Toturi Hisako when the time is right. The Lion and Unicorn do not give a reason for not announcing who they will support.
Contest of Artistry
In an attempt to focus the people of Rokugan away from the current political upheaval, Otomo Kazuma organised a contest between three of Rokugan’s most famous theatre troupes; The Kyozou, the Korede Gokko, and Mayakashi. Hida Kengo and Mirumoto Kane were chosen to be judges in the contest and attempted to gauge the troupe’s performances based on the quality of the acting and the writing of the plays. In the end, after much political manoeuvring, it was the Kyozou troupe that won the contest
• Over the course of the three days, Bayushi Tenburo made a number of attempts to speak with Hida Kengo over tea. After spotting Tenburo apparently slipping something into his tea, Kengo switched cups with him and, thereafter, refused to join him. Kengo also detected someone attempting to break into his room and caught a servant he suspected of working for Tenburo. In private conversation with Kengo, Tenburo had made a number of threats against his family and, unwilling to allow Tenburo to leave to carry out these threats, Kengo followed him and ambushed him in an alleyway. With his dying breath, Tenburo explained that the tea was not poisoned but in fact contained the antidote to poison that had been in Kengo’s sake and food. With the poison starting to take effect, Kengo managed to reach Bayushi Ichizo and pleaded with him to help find an antidote, promising him anything in return. Ichizo was able to create an antidote from local plants and herbs, and only just managed to administer it in time to save Kengo’s life.
• Toturi Mahime was also present at the contest, although she attempted to draw attention away from herself. During the final evening of the event, she fell ill, and, upon examination, it was determined she had been poisoned. Seppun Toshio called upon Kakita Kenichi and Soshi Satomi to help Mahime, and Satomi was able to importune the kami to purge the poison from her system. It was not determined who was responsible for poisoning Mahime.
• Kakita Sensa seduced Ichizo in an attempt to influence the voting in favour of the Korede Gokko troupe. When this failed, Kakita Yotai challenged Ichizo, claiming that he had seduced his wife, and both petitioned to their daimyo for the right to duel.
The group arrived at the Hall of Ancestors in Lion lands for the funeral of Matsu Nimoro, who had died a few weeks earlier. During their stay, the group began noticing small instances of bad luck affecting local peasants and it soon became apparent that that a mujina was responsible. The mujina stole Kakita Kenichi’s sword, an Akodo dagger and the urn containing Nimoro’s ashes, escaping through a portal to Sakkaku. The group followed it and discovered that the Mujina had been driven insane after Toritaka Yamamiya had become trapped within the realm. Discovering that the vengeful soul of Yamamiya’s ancestor was trapped within his wakizashi, the group broke the sword, freeing Yamamiya from his curse once and for all.
Hall of Ancestors
• The group investigated the circumstances behind Nimoro’s death and learned that he had been poisoned during the annual Matsu ritual of leadership. Speaking with Otomo Komaji, Kenichi learned of rumours that Gintaku, the new Lion Clan Champion, felt that the current Imperial Line had lost its way and should be re-forged from the original Akodo bloodline.
• Hida Kengo encountered Kitsuki Sakata, an Emerald Magistrate, who had begun investigating the death of Bayushi Tenburo. He presented Kengo with a notice of investigation and asked him a number of questions about his actions at the Chancellor’s Tournament.
• Following up on some of the things the Mujina had said, Mirumoto Kane suggested that Soshi Satomi examine Nimoro’s urn with her magic. They discovered that it contained dust and not ashes.
• Word from Scorpion lands indicated that the Unicorn had successfully taken the city of Ryoko Owari. The common view was that the notoriously hard to control city would be too much for the Unicorn to handle.
• Following the funeral, Kitsu Shuji, the Kitsu family daimyo, committed seppuku for failing to save Nimoro’s life. The group attended the ritual and noticed that Gintaku seemed pleased with the turn of events.
• Bayushi Ichizo travelled to Crane lands following the funeral to duel Kakita Yotai. Due to the seriousness of Ichizo’s alleged crimes, it was decided that a duel to the death would be warranted. Yotai struck first but failed to kill Ichizo in one blow. Unfortunately, the damage was already done, and Ichizo was unable to draw the strength to retaliate, and Yotai quickly ended his life
Doom of the Crab
The group, accompanying Otomo Hiroshi, arrived at Kyuden Hida for Toturi Kobe’s gempukku ceremony. The festivities were interrupted when scouts brought warnings of Shadowlands forces having breached the Kaiu Wall and the Crab evacuated all visitors to Kyuden Moshibaru. It soon became apparent that the extent of the Shadowlands forces was greater than anyone expected, and the group were forced to continue their exodus from Crab lands. While the guests and civilians crossed the River of Gold, the warriors of the Crab Clan stood against the Shadowlands forces, preventing them from advancing any further into the Empire but at a great cost in lives.
Heki (Toturi Gendo)
• Upon hearing that the Wall had been breached, Kuni Yuriko publically questioned Gojiro’s decision to deploy so many troops as part of the Crab Clan’s war effort against the Crane. When Gojiro refused to admit his mistake, Yuriko committed jigai in protest for his actions.
• Hiruma Tsukan requested the group journey to Koten to retrieve Toturi Gendo. They were successful in this mission, but the monastery was overrun by goblins shortly afterwards.
• Tsukan also requested that the group ensure that Gojiro’s sister, Hida Junko, be safeguarded during the journey through Crab lands. While they were able to keep her safe from the Shadowland’s forces, Junko died from illness brought on by having to force-march for several days with no food or water.
• Moto Yoshi attacked the group during an attempt to reconstruct a bridge through Prosperous Pass. Yoshi easily defeated Soshi Satomi and Hida Kengo in seconds and dropped Mirumoto Kane into the ravine, removing him from the fight. He was eventually driven off by the arrival of Crab soldiers with jade powder coated weapons.
• In the days after the battle with the Shadowlands forces, word arrived from the besieged Crab lands that Shiro Kaiu and the Hiruma lands were still holding off the invasion but Kyuden Hida had fallen and Hida Gojiro had died defending the castle.
Words and Deeds
The group arrived at Shiro Moto during the Plum Blossom festival as part of a joint Dragon/Crane mission to request aid from their Unicorn Allies. While the courtiers attempted to negotiate additional troops to help them in the upcoming wars, the group were able to take part in the local festivities.
Utaku Xi Quan
• Mirumoto Kane accompanied Mirumoto Reika to Unicorn lands. Reika was a promising student at the Thunder Mountain Dojo who hoped to petition the Unicorn Clan to join their Utaku Battle Maiden School. Noticing that Moto Zenko’s son, Moto Abdul, showed talent with attacks using his off-hand, Kane arranged a student exchange between the two clans, with Abdul joining the Mirumoto school.
• Kane also encountered a young monk named Hiroritabi who demonstrated great skill as an artist. Kane offered him a place at his monastery and, with the permission of the local abbot, he accepted.
• The group encountered Andar Sul, an ambassador from the Ivory Kingdoms. Sul explained that his family had found a Rokugani blade in his lands and wished to return it. He also explained that the blade seemed cursed, and all who own it were driven to acts of violence and he hoped the curse could be lifted. Soshi Satomi determined that the fire kami within the blade were responsible and was able to banish them.
• Satomi was contacted by the local Scorpion ambassador, Shosuro Sori, in the hopes she could find someone who could provide the Scorpion Clan with knowledge of the Unicorn’s war plans. Satomi managed to arrange for members of a local theatre troupe to gain places at more prestigious troupes but failed to capitalise on the favours owed.
• Towards the end of the Khan’s Court, Moto Temujin challenged Kakita Kenichi to a friendly duel, recognising him as a duelist of some note. It was decided that, in honour of the festival, the winner would be the one who cut a plum blossom off his opponent’s kimono first. While Kenichi managed to strike first, Temujin struck back, badly wounding Kenichi, declaring himself the winner. Kane quickly grappled Kenichi and removed him from the court before he could cause an incident.
• As the court came to an end, word arrived that insurrection and revolt had broken out in Ryoko Owari. The Khan ordered that the city be stripped of all resources and burned to the ground as a warning message to the Scorpion Clan that he would not tolerate their tricks.
Winter Court: Toshi Ranbo
• This year, Winter Court is held in the Imperial Capital. Otomo Kazuma attempted to bring the current Imperial heir situation to a close, but was unable to unite the Clans behind a single heir. The Crane’s suggestion that Toturi Yukihime become Empress has the strongest backing, with the Dragon shifting their support to their allies. The Mantis maintained that Hizatoru should rule while the Crab and Phoenix were divided on their choice. The Unicorn and Lion Clan delegates refused to support any Imperial heir, with the Lion announcing that Akodo Gintaku should be allowed to rule as it can be assured he is of the Akodo bloodline.
• The Scorpion Clan were also divided in who should be heir – some come out in favour of Toturi Hisako being heir while others support Yukihime’s claim. However, a small group of Scorpions come forward and shock the courts with the revelation that Torturi Kobashi had an illegitimate child named Toko with a Scorpion maiden. They put forward that it should be Toko who becomes Emperor, but Otomo Kazuma decrees that the other heirs would have a stronger claim to the throne. He does suggest that whoever becomes Emperor should adopt him however.
• Unable to resolve the issue, Kazuma appoints Toturi Kobe as Shogun, to marshal the Imperial armies in the absence of the Emperor. Even this decision is questioned by the Great Clans, with many pointing out that only an Emperor can appoint a Shogun.
• Talk then turns to the Shadowlands invasion of Crab Lands. Toritaka Tenkai speaks to the assembled samurai asking for support. The Dragon are quick to pledge the support of their tattooed men to the Crab while the Phoenix offer to support the Crab, but only if peace can be brokered with the Unicorn. The Lion also pledge to support the Crab, and word arrives that Akodo Gintaku will lead troops south to Crab Lands in the spring. The Lion point out that this will mean they will have to travel through Scorpion Lands, a comment many believe is aimed at the Unicorn Clan who are currently encamped there.
• With the Lion clearly planning to attack them, the Unicorn Clan agree to broker peace with the Phoenix Clan, and a meeting between the two clans is organised for early spring.
• In light of Miya Shikan’s death earlier in the year, the future of the Sapphire Magistrates was discussed. Over the course of the last few months of the year, Kakita Kenichi managed to gain political support from many of the Great Clans, even arranging for members of the Lion and Unicorn Clans to offer their support. Kazuma agreed that the organisation should remain active, and arranged for them to report to the Emerald Champion, Kitsuki Jiro, until such time as a suitable replacement for Shikan could be found.
• Towards the end of Winter Court, Otomo Kazuma’s health takes a turn for the worse and he is found dead in his chambers a few days later. There is no evidence of him having been poisoned or any foul play, and most believe that his advanced age and the stresses of being Chancellor had finally caught up with him.
• Word reached Mirumoto Kane that his half-brother, Toturi Gendo, had died over the winter. While he initially believed this was due to his failing health, he later learned that he had requested the right of seppuku and his brother, Toturi Kobe, had acted as his second.