Kyuden Caerdydd - Champions of the Sapphire Throne
Truth and Falsehood
The group arrived in Tiger lands as part of their magistrate duties and became involved in the search for Yotsu Chuusei, the eldest daughter of the Tiger Clan daimyo, Yotsu Araki. It soon became apparent that members of the Tiger Clan were acting contrary to the tenets of bushido and the group discovered a group of Tiger bushi, led by Hoshi Haitoku, guarding a spirit realm portal. They were defeated by Haitoku, who left the area by stepping through the portal, and they returned to Shiro Giri to warn Araki.
The following day, they learned that an army of Haitoku’s followers were attacking the castle, and they returned to the portal to close it. Research indicated that the portal would only close if Haitoku chose to close it or he was killed, which forced the group to step through into the realm of Jigoku. Haitoku was eventually tracked to a dojo deep within the realm of evil, and the group confronted the monk and his master, Hiruma Kyojitsu. The group managed to kill Haitoku and escaped Jigoku before the portal closed, but did not defeat Kyojitsu. It remains to be seen if Kyojitsu will attempt to return to Rokugan in the future.
• During their stay in Otosan Uchi, Hida Kengo met a gaijin named William Blythe. Kengo entered into a drinking contest with Blythe, but both collapsed before a definitive winner could be decided. Kengo awoke first and took the wager, a silver knife of gaijin design, leaving a handful of koku for Blythe.
• The group were initially unable to follow Haitoku’s trail through Jigoku and encountered an oni called Bakuto. Bakuto offered to show them the way to Kyojitsu’s dojo if they wagered their name with him. Soshi Satomi managed to beat Bakuto, but not before Takahara had lost a game. Bakuto seemed unimpressed when Takahara gave his name and only seemed happy after he provided him with his chop.
• Prior to their fight with Haitoku and Kyojitsu, the group discovered that Kengo had been possessed by Kyojitsu. Kengo was able to maintain Control during the fight and refused to attack the group, proving that his Will was stronger than Kyojitsu’s. The group managed to pull Kengo out of the dojo, returning him to his senses, but it is unclear if this has broken Kyojitsu’s hold on him.
• Kyojitsu made mention to the group that Kengo had recently committed murder, killing Bayushi Tenburo. Mirumoto Kane was quick to point out that the word of a spirit had no weight of testimony so this matter was not investigated further
The Spider’s Lair
Kakita Kenichi and Mirumoto Kane both received letters asking to meet in Scorpion lands and, upon arrival, they discovered they were sent by Soshi (Kobura) Keilani and Shosuro (Kochako) Kiyome. The pair explained that Shosuro Hido, the Shosuro daimyo, had been conducting a power play for control of the Scorpion Clan for several decades and his current plans threatened the lives of all the Imperial heirs, but specifically Toturi Hisako. Accompanied by former members of Hido’s elite troops, the group infiltrated Hido’s lair deep beneath Nihai Tower and confronted “The Spider”. Rescuing Hisako, they took her to Kyuden Bayushi to confront Bayushi Tamoru with the truth of Hido’s betrayal
The Spider’s Lair
Shosuro (Kochako) Kiyome
Soshi (Kobura) Keilani
• Keilani and Kiyome explained that Hido had been muscling in on the organised crime within the Empire, using the Smiling Tigers gang as his primary agents. The group’s investigations into the magistrates of Ryoko Owari and Toshi Aitate were both manipulated by Hido to help him dispose of key figures in the Bayushi run gangs.
• It was revealed that the Spider Clan monks the group had run into on several occasions were actually Hido’s elite soldiers, the Spider’s Fangs. Hido disguised them as agents of the Shadowlands to further distance their actions from him.
• Hido’s connection to the Mantis/Thrane plot to take control of the Empire was revealed. Hido was supposed to lend his troops support to the coup, but the Unicorn Clan’s invasion of Scorpion lands prevented him from doing so. Keilani and Kiyome believed that Hido had his own plans for the throne that did not involve Hizatoru however.
• The final revelation was that Bayushi Ichizo had been working with Hido since becoming a magistrate, providing information to him on the group’s encounters. Furthermore, following Hido’s orders, it was actually Ichizo who killed Kitsuki Tanako in 1501, starting the Dragon/Badger war.
• While Ichizo was believed to have been killed during the previous year, the pair revealed that he still lived and was part of the force guarding Hido. The group confronted their former colleague in the tunnels beneath Nihai Tower, and Kane was able to land the killing blow, gaining revenge for the death of his kinsmen.
• Bayushi Tamoru announced that Hido and all who followed him would be branded traitors to the Clan but asked that these events remain an internal matter
State of the Empire
With the threat of the Shadowlands still looming large, most of the inter-clan wars have ceased in the hopes of re-taking the Crab homelands.
Unicorn Clan vs. Phoenix Clan
In response to the proposed peace treaty discussed at Winter Court, the Phoenix Clan arranged for a delegation of the troops to meet with the Unicorn at the Shrine to Inari.
Unicorn Clan vs. Scorpion Clan
The Khan’s troops continued their march through Scorpion Lands, leaving Ryoko Owari a burning ruin, and moving to besiege Kyuden Bayushi.
Lion Clan vs. Unicorn Clan
Akodo Gintaku, as part of his commitment to the Crab Clan, leads three of his armies through Beiden Pass and takes control of the city of Beiden. With the Unicorn Clan moving swiftly across the same area, a clash between the two is inevitable.
Otomo Hiroshi, the Imperial Historian, announced that he had been chosen to represent Toturi Kobe in his negotiations with the Great Clans. Hiroshi explained that Kobe wished to prepare in case the Shadowlands forces could not be contained. The Crab, Crane, Dragon, Mantis, Scorpion and Phoenix Clans offered their support to the Shogun, but, due to other commitments or lack of resources, only the Crane and Mantis were able to offer troops to supplement the Imperial Legions.
A Hard Rain Will Fall
The group arrived in Northern Crane lands to pay their respects to the Shogun. During a hunting trip, Mirumoto Kane found a pendant and the spirit lantern belonging to Toturi Chisa, implying that someone had taken her from the Imperial Capital. Following their trail to Scorpion Lands, the group were trapped by spring flooding in the castle of Shiro Inbi. There, they were contacted by a Kuni Otoya, a Kuni witch hunter, who suspected one of the guests of spreading the Shadowlands taint. Unable to determine the source of the Taint and with Chisa still missing, the group left Shiro Inbi to continue their search. The group eventually found the wagon they were following close to Kyuden Bayushi, but the group were too late to save Chisa or her brother, Toturi Hizatoru, who had both been killed.
The Shogun’s Camp
Honzo (formerly Soshi Honzo)
• Upon leaving Shiro Inbi, the group encountered the remains of the Unicorn army, recently defeated by the armies of Akodo Gintaku. Amongst them was the Khan, Moto Temujin. As they approached Shiro Inbi they triggered a hidden explosive device that killed the majority of the army. Temujin succumbed to his wounds as well, but not before lashing out at Kakita Kenichi who he had recently come to consider as a mortal enemy. Temujin’s blow cut across Kenichi’s face, blinding him in one eye.
• A journal found near Hizatoru’s body indicated that he had hoped to offer his sister as a hostage to the Khan in exchange for being given the Imperial Throne. It was not clear who had killed the two, but, from the wounds inflicted, the blows were done with katana, not scimitars.
State of the Empire
The forces of the Shadowlands pushed back against the Crab defenders, moving further into the Empire. Attacks were reported from the Sparrow Clan lands and rumours reached the northern lands that Kyuden Suzume was preparing for a direct attack.
Unicorn Clan vs. Phoenix Clan
Dragon courtiers began bringing news that some sort of clash had occurred in Phoenix lands in late spring. Later, word came from the Lion Clan reporting that the Unicorn Army had turned on the Phoenix Clan during the peace negotiations. They also claim that that their own forces, led by Akodo Mako, arrived in time to destroy the Unicorn army, but too late to save the Phoenix forces. The Phoenix report that four members of the Elemental Council had been killed by the Unicorn, the only survivor being Asako Heichi, the Jade Champion, who was in the Imperial Capital at the time.
Unicorn Clan vs. Scorpion Clan
With the Khan’s defeat to the Lion Clan, and his subsequent death near Shiro Inbi, the Unicorn’s war with the Scorpion Clan ends. Lion Clan forces report that a fire was started in Kyuden Bayushi during the battle, but it is unclear if the Unicorn or Scorpion Clan started it.
With the Unicorn Clan defeated, Gintaku begins marching south to bring aid to the Crab Clan. Many believe that his feud with the Unicorn Clan has weakened his armies, jeopardising their chances of defeating the Shadowlands horde.
With the deaths of Hizatoru and Chisa, rumours begin that Toturi Yukihime will soon travel to Toshi Ranbo to claim the Imperial Throne.
Fate of the Assassin
After receiving a mysterious letter, Kakita Kenichi travelled to Benten Seido to meet with a nun named Aisha. Upon arriving, Kenichi realised that Aisha was, in fact, O-Doji Koneko, and she revealed to Kenichi that Matsu Nimoro had not died and was hiding in the shrine. Nimoro explained that he had suspected Akodo Gintaku of plotting against him for some time and arranged with Kitsu Shuji to fake his death, allowing him time to observe Gintaku’s actions. Before the pair could leave the Shrine, Kagekaze arrived, having accepted a job to kill Nimoro, killing everyone else in the shrine to get to them. Kenichi confronted Kagekaze with his actions; pointing out how they went against the code he normally followed. Realising the error of his ways, Kagekaze plunged his sword into his own throat, killing himself.
Aisha (O-Doji Koneko)
• Nimoro explained that his intent was to journey to the Shogun’s camp and pledge alliegance to Toturi Kobe. Then he would challenge Gintaku for control of the Lion Clan.
• Kenichi heard rumours that the Empire had been suffering a rash of earthquakes. Many guests at the shrine were also reporting seeing a variety of bad omens, suggesting a troubled future for Rokugan.
March Unto Death
While Kenichi met with Nimoro, the rest of the group marched towards Crab lands to help them defend the Empire from the Shadowlands horde. Joining up with the First Matsu Army, the group travelled to the River of Gold where the armies prepared for the coming battle. The following day, the army met up with the 2 armies that Gintaku had personally led to Crab lands and began engaging the Shadowlands forces. Just as the Empire’s forces began turning the tide of the battle, Akodo Gintaku began a ritual, sacrificing his son, Akodo Soto, to create giant black chains that shot into the sky. The chains soon returned to earth, carrying the bound form of the Jade Dragon in their coils. Using an Akodo dagger, Gintaku slit the Dragon’s throat, claiming its power for himself, offering the First Matsu Army as a sacrifice to the Shadowlands forces. The group were amongst the few samurai to escape the enraged Shadowlands creatures and rushed to return word of Gintaku’s actions to the Empire
• Mirumoto Kane was accompanied into battle by Togashi Kagetsumu and the students from his dojo. Kane was able to escape the rout of the First Matsu Army but all his followers died in the fighting.
• During the fighting, Kuni Ayabe, one of the Jade Magistrates trained by Mirumoto Kane and Soshi Satomi, met up with Hitomi Choujo, the monk he had met during Winter Court in Dragon Lands. Choujo refused to leave after Gintaku betrayed the First Matsu Army, hoping to buy the group some time to escape. Ayabe decided to stay with her, fighting side by side until the horde over ran them
• After the Jade Dragon’s death, the skies of Rokugan turned a terrible reddish-black colour and blood fell from the heavens.
Fleeing the destruction of the First Matsu Army, Mirumoto Kane, Hida Kengo, and Takahara all experienced a dream of the village of Aichi-Mura. When they arrived they met up with Kakita Kenichi and Soshi Satomi who had experienced the same dream. There they encountered the Obsidian Dragon and his Avatar who had been driven insane by the death of the Jade Dragon. Realising that he needed mortal help to restore the celestial balance, the Obsidian Dragon opened a portal to the spirit realms, telling the group that they needed to travel to Tengoku. There they met the Celestial Dragon who explained that the Jade Dragon could be reborn through the sacrifice of those with honour in their hearts. The group all agreed and each gave up part of their essence to restore the sun.
The Avatar of Obsidian (Hida Junzo)
The Jade Dragon
• Kakita Kenichi noticed that the Avatar of Obsidian was Hida Junzo, the Crab Clan bushi who’s wedding to Daidoji Miyui Kenichi had attended a few years ago. It was not determined how Junzo had come to be possessed.
• While travelling through the spirit realms, the group encountered Kitsu Mokuna who was being pursued by the last members of the Tsuno pack they fought in Toshigoku. With the Tsuno defeated, Mokuna revealed that he had rescued a number of samurai from spirit realms they had become trapped within and they returned to Rokugan through the Obsidian Dragon’s portal.
• While each of the group sacrificed a part of their essence to revive the Jade Dragon, Mirumoto Kane was called upon to sacrifice even more, fulfilling his destiny. While Kane still lived, he had lost access to all his mystical tattoos and the kihos he had learned in the last few years. All that remained was a new tattoo, representing the Jade Dragon.
• Togashi Setsuo, the monk who handed over control of the Thunder Mountain Dojo to Kane, revealed he was actually an avatar of the Celestial Dragon. He explained that Kane seeking out his parents, and asking the Oracle of Water for that information, had threatened to alter his destiny. Setsuo took action, offering Kane the dojo, hoping he would not stray too far from the path the heavens had chosen for him.
The 2nd Battle for Toshi Ranbo
Realising that they were vastly outnumbered by Gintaku’s forces, Matsu Nimoro and Toturi Kobe agreed that the only way the battle could be won would be to fight through the enemy armies in an attempt to reach Akodo Gintaku. If he could be killed, the Shadowlands Horde would loose their command, and the samurai loyal to Gintaku would be freed from his influence.
The group fought as part of the Shogun’s armies, battling against both Lion Clan and Shadowlands forces alike. They eventually confronted Akodo Mako, Gintaku’s second in command, who revealed himself to be Moto Yoshi in disguise. Yoshi made short work of the group, killing Kakita Kenichi, Mirumoto Kane and Takahara, and disabling Hida Kengo. Confronting Soshi Satomi, and gloating about their previous encounter, Yoshi under estimated Satomi’s commitment to defeating the Shadowlands Horde. Satomi called upon all five of the elements, crafting a unique spell that restored the group to full health and stripped Yoshi of his Shadowlands taint. Unfortunately for Satomi, the spell came with a heavy cost: her life. Her body had turned into jade and, as the group watched, she fell apart, turning into jade powder which was carried by air kami around the battlefield, killing or injuring anything with the Shadowlands taint. The group then turned upon the now mortal Moto Yoshi, ending his threat to the Empire once and for all.
Finally, the group moved to confront Akodo Gintaku. Channelling the power stolen from the Jade Dragon, Gintaku shrugged off the group’s attacks, killing Kane in one blow. Kengo fell shortly afterwards leaving just Kenichi and Takahara standing. Using the Obsidian daggers given to Kenichi, the pair were able to temporarily block Gintaku’s use of the Jade Dragon’s powers long enough for Matsu Nimoro to arrive and land the final blow, killing the Steel Lion and reclaiming the Lion Clan Championship.
With the Shadowlands armies either dead or fleeing the battlefield, those troops still loyal to Gintaku committed seppuku, realising the mistake of their allegiance. With Gintaku dead, Toturi Yukihime announced she would relinquish any claim to the throne in favour of her brother, Toturi Kobe. Likewise, Toturi Mahime and Toturi Hisako announced they would not contest Kobe’s claim making him the undisputed Emperor of Rokugan.
And so began the reign of Toturi XIII, the Silent.
Winter Court: Toshi Ranbo
Winter court is held in Toshi Ranbo this year in honour of Toturi Kobe’s ascension to the Sapphire Throne. While the city still shows the damage inflicted by the recent battle, Otomo Hiroshi ensures that the Imperial Courtrooms show no signs of the recent troubles. Hiroshi, in his new role as Voice of the Emperor, announces to the assembled courtiers Toturi XIII’s proclamations.
• A memorial is to be built to those that fell in battle against Akodo Gintaku’s forces with the names of each samurai being inscribed onto the base.
• For their role in defeating both Moto Yoshi and Akodo Gintaku, Hida Kengo, Mirumoto Kane and Soshi Satomi will be elevated to the position of Fortunes.
• Mirumoto Kane, in honour of his sacrifice to restore the Jade Sun, will be remembered as Kane, the Fortune of Jade.
• Soshi Satomi, in honour of her sacrifice to destroy the Shadowlands horde, will be remembered as Satomi, the Fortune of Heroic Sacrifice.
• Hida Kengo, whose training and guidance prepared the Emperor for the battle, will be remembered as Kengo, the Fortune of Military Strategy.
• The Emperor also wished to reward Kakita Kenichi and Takahara for their actions.
• In reward for saving the Emperor’s life during the battle, Takahara will be known henceforth as Seppun Takahara and will act as the Imperial Yojimbo.
• Kakita Kenichi is appointed as the Sapphire Champion, taking full control of the Sapphire Magistrates.