Time of the Drowned Swords.

Test of Steel and Honor
Topaz Championship

The best and brightest of the Samurai have come forward for the year 1500 Topaz championship, hosted in the village of Tsuma, in the crane lands. This year had the honor of seeing many of the Imperial family and champions,
Toturi Nagana, female, eldest daughter of the Emperor ,Toturi Yanagio, Male, eldest son of the Emperor, nicknamed “Kukikami” Air Spirit, Miya Daiyo, female, Daimyo of the Miya and Imperial Herald, Jade Champion, Moshi Tako, Emerald Champion, Shiba Yahiko, and Imperial Treasurer, Kasuga Tsukasao.

The first days activities of Sumai, Heraldry, Athletics, Horsemanship with bow and sword, and Law went uneventful. That first evening, both Totrui children and the Miya slipped into the inn where the contestants where staying to meet and talk with them. Isawa Akiro played go with Totrui Nagana, and defeated her, she was impressed enough with him to gift him her personal go board. Afterword a quick discussion was held as Nagana forgot she was suppost to gift that to the winner of the go tournament the next day, her brother told her not to worry and left to get items arranged.

The second days events of personal combat, Poety went without a issue, then Yanagio announced that instead of a go tournament, there would be a kite tournament to honor the kami of the air that where very playful for the last couple of days. Then the quiz of court and etiquette was held. That evening, during the great Tsi Egg hunt, Kitsune Kurako went missing, a search party found her dead in the river, she died from the Maho spell no pure breaths. The Jade and Emperald Magistrates questioned all the contestants, the only ones that where separated from their groups where Kakita Sakimiko and Matsu Itoeko, however they confessed that they had arranged a duel between them, which explained why they where wounded. It was announced the following morning to all the spectators that Kitsune drowned in the river tragically.

The iaijutsu tournament came down to Shiba Tsueno and Akodo Yasamura, as the two favorates Kakita Sakimiko and Matsu Itoeko both bowed out of the tournament. In the end Shiba Tsueno won and became Topaz Champion.

Before the naming ceremony as everyone was starting to relax and enjoy the beginning of the festivities, a group of Shosuro guards approached covered in grime and blood, they explained that Iuchiban attacked Shiro Shosuro and caused the hill to collapse upon itself, killing all there, Shosuro Shizueko who was in the tournament was now the family champion. The unicorn gave steeds to her for her to use to get home as quick as possible and the crab sent a gift of engineers to the castle also. The guards did have a message for the Miya to give the empire, Iuchiban had claimed the title Dark oracle of Earth….

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A Path of Honor

After a few days rest from the Topaz Championship, the group is summoned by Shiba Yahiko the Emerald Champion. It seems a ronin was murdered overnight, and normal investigations have no leads. The Emerald Magistrate Kitsuki Hiroyuki, has asked for permission to use the case as a test for Kitsuki evidence to be allowed in Imperial Courts and Law.

After a quick discussion with Hiroyuki about duties, they investigated the scene they discovered two bloody fingerprints on the window and ledge, and a scrap of dark green silk. In the room they found a bag of coins, a number of travel orders and a book with strange calligraphy. The body itself showed one wound, and that the ronin had a bleeding disease. There was traces of heavy opium use in the mouth and defensive wounds on his hands. The shugenja could not crack the cipher of the book. They also found several cherry blossom petals that seemed different that others. Isawa Akrio and Shiba Tsuned noted that they seemed to be from the House of the Silk Flowers, a geisha house in the town. His daisho set seemed to be rather new and had marking from a crane weaponsmith.

Questioning the six samurai in the Inn, was not very productive, but takata nagori, did learn and get the basics of how to fingerprint someone down. He managed to sooth a courtiers anger about ink stains.

In discussions with Kakita Maroshi and his assistant Kakita Etsuko, they learned that Haraiki was considered a honorable man, and that he was going to be offered into a minor family of the crane. His duty this year was to assist in guarding the encampment of the Fox clan during topaz championship. Last year, Haraiki was instrumental in preventing a major robbery and was gifted a new daisho by the crane and unicorn for service rendered.
His commander for this year daidoki shika, let haraiki lead the night watch with two ronin to command. They reported nothing strange during the topaz, but Shika did inform the party of Haraiki’s eight year old daughter.

The party then did split up as several attempted to find the undergrown opium trade, shiba and isawa went to the house of the silk flowers using the invitation they had to interview zenmi, who also informed them of the family connection and history, shiba and isawa then set up a morning appointment with the madam Kaminako for rest of the group as to not disrupt the evening activities at the house.

The next morning the group interviewed Zenmi with Kaminako present, the line of questioning about opium brought forth another geisha who mostly served the ronin passing by but received larger and more elegant gifts than most. Questing her they discovered that she was passing out opium to those who knew a code word, a ronin named Kuroka , had set it up so she was gifting that which was gifted to her. Bypassing the spirit of the opium trade laws, the amount she had was much more than personal use, but did have a crab tax stamp on them. She pointed the group to a fireman known as the Orchid of the Steel Blossom, as who picked up most of it.

after spending most of the day not being able to find the fireman, the group retired to a tavern and attempted to arrange a meeting with them through a waitress, after a couple of hours the group was approached by a peasant using various bribes and threats they attempted to gain their assistance and arranged a meeting in two days.

Returning to the inn for the night, the group found waiting for them Shiba Yahiko , Bayushi Yoichi, and Kuni Hideko, explaining what evidence they had found, and what they where looking for Yoichi asked for a showing of fingerprinting, then asked Kitsuki to show his fingerprint. At that point there where shocks as Kitsuki’s Hiroyuki fingerprint matched the bloody one, and inside his saya was blood as he predicted, further checking in his room found a torn kimono that matched the part found on the window, Haraiki’s travel log and a opium pipe and small amount of opium. Hiroyuki was unable to explain how this had come into his possession, Hideko and Yoichi then informed the Emerald Champion that they had witnessed Haraiki suppuku , and that they had planted the evidence to show that the so called Kitsuki evidence was not worthy of Imperial courts. Hideko and Yoichi had given a sealed scroll of their plan to the Emerald magistrate before the topaz championship of their plan. The ronin’s daughter while in the yogo lands had shown signs that she was awakened and able to become a shugenja, in exchange for his life, his daughter was being adapted by a yogo sensei as her own daughter, and she would be raised and trained as a yogo shugenja in a prestigious house. Hiroyuki nodded in disappointment and handed his sash back to Shiba Yahiko as he failed in his mission to allow kitsuki evidence to be used in courts. She thanked him for his service, and as he was leaving, she re offered the position to him, he thanked for for the honor, but wished to return to his own clan duties, she asked if his son would be interested, but he also had duties, he recommended that any of his yuriki in this investigation would be honorable enough to serve the Empire. Yoritomo Taiko accepted the offer.

The group then prepares to head out the next day with the imperial contingent to Toshi Ronbo, then over into the Lion lands for a simple go tournament.

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Go Tournament

After escorting the Imperials to Toshi RonToshi Ranbo wo Shien Shite Reigisaho, the topaz champion and his honor guard went to the town of Rusashi for a simple Go Tournament. There was a interesting group of samurai there for the game, plus a Thrane. During the preliminary games, it was noted that the scorpion used chopsticks to move his stones and that the Thrane had the horrid habit of chewing on his fingernails and tips of his fingers to everyone disgust. Several of the samurai presented him with gloves as gifts to stop his habit while playing.

It was lunch on the third day when the Thrane approched Takata Nagori and went into the rock garden for a quick talk using his broken rokugan and gestures he got across the fact there was poison in the holders of the go stones, as a Thrane he knew if he brought it forth he would be dismissed, so it fell to several on the Topaz honor guard to quietly look into this while not disturbing the tournament or its honor.

After a long search overnight they found there was a opium based poison that slowly clouded and addicted the mind of the user in the oil used to polish the stones and bowls that held them. Discreetly informing others they arranged for the bowls to be replaced. The quarterfinals for the game where Isawa Akiro vs Utaku Animarie and Togashi Sakura vs Bayushi Yoshikazu, Isawa Akiro and Togashi Sakura advanced for the finals on the last day. After the morning blessing but before the game started a skirmish broke out as some ronin attacked the city and tournament area with fire arrows. The group split up to deal with both sides, narrowly defeating the ronin before heading back to watch the final of Togashi’s win over Isawa. It was later reported that the ronin where part of a military maneuver that had gotten lost and attacked the wrong area instad of a preset area they where suppose to.

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Shiro Shosuro
Chrysanthemum Festival

During the Go tournament, one of the samurai there, a Ottomo Tamiko asked the Topaz champion where his travels where taking him and his group next. Tamiko needed to have a very important gift delivered down to the Fox Clan, but her duties where calling for her to be sent north to the Dragon lands. The Topaz champion decided a trip to the lands of the fox would be agreeable and they set out, from the Lion lands heading down, with a stop at Shiro Shosuro to see Shosuro Shizueko, who they had been in the topaz tournament together with and see if they could help the rebuilding of Shiro Shosuro. Due to the fact it was the same time as the Chrysanthemum festival when no one is suppose to work but bodies where still missing, Shizueko pleased with the Scorpion Champion to allow those that wished to work to still continue to do so. The Champion relented as he did not wish the souls of the departed to return as Gaki or worse. Takata Nagori remembered a talk he had with Shizueko, who wished to see all the different types of plays and dances of the empire, she realized that there would be one play that would always elude her, the crab draw lot play, she knew the only way to truly see one is performed by tired overworked crab on the wall, and that she had no place being there. The Crab engineers that where sent to the castle to help where actually gifted to her and made into the shosuro family, to put the scorpions minds at ease as then they could not return home with any scorpion clan secrets. He told them of her request and he purchased a copy of the play, “Birth of the Empire” which showed the Kami’s fall to Earth and the tournamet that brought the Hentei into power.

Over the next couple of days they recovered all the rest of the missing bodies with the help of Isawa Akiro and Takata Nagori, in asking the kami’s help. They also found a large steel walkin vault that must have been buried under the castle, it had the marks of Kaui Steel and the lock was made of Crystal. Shiba Tsuneo tried the crystal dagger he had he felt something flow from within him but the lock did not open. The next day the group with Shizueko her magistrate and everyone but Yoritomo Taiko, figured out how to open the vault, Shizueko and the magistrate went in, the magistrate and her returned, he declared he knew how it would be taxed, She then sealed the vault, and ordered the engineers to plan to place this in the center basement of the new keep they where designing so that it could be protected at all times. She then assigned a guard of dozen to stand watch over it at all times.

The draw lot play was hosted by the famed acting troup in its Silken Smile Theater, The play to a professional was a full failure, the actors did not know the lines and performed adhoc lines, the acting was horrible the combat scenes drawn out and overreacted blood loss. All in all a failure, but it was just as a draw lot play should be like. Shizueko tried her best not to laugh, but started enjoying the performance behind her fan to the relief of all. She declared it to be the most wonderful version of the story she had ever seen. The Silken smile troup has quietly decided that the play will never be held again in their theater, supposedly to honor this performance. That night she did a dance for the group after dinner that had many talking behind fans.

The next day before the group could leave, she performed a tea ceremony for the Topaz champion and his group, several members caught hidden messages in the service.

The group then headed down to Kitsune forest to deliver the gift from the Otomo.

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Forest of the Fox

As the group entered the forest of the fox, they remembered the story that it takes most of one day to get to the castle, however by evening they had no sight of any village or settlement and set up camp for the night.

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A Play Retold

20th day, month of Doji

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The archer and the Wall

mantis lands 5th day of Shiba

The test of the Wall 25th day of Shiba

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A voice of peace

10th day of Bayushi

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Wrath of the Kami

Unicorn lands start 23rd day of Bayushi

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Arrows from the Woods

Started 2nd day of Shinjo
Report 1 to Emerald Champion

I was travelling with the Topaz Champion’s group from Unicorn to Dragon lands. A Crab merchant by the name of Kiokuro, travelled with us with 7 wagons and 2 ronin.

We came upon the former town of Yasui. The entire town was a wasteland. All the 120 peasants were dead. There was not a single zeni left in this town. All usable food was taken and what was left was ruined. This appeared to have happened MONTHS before, and nothing had been done about the aftermath.

I commandeered some of the peasants travelling with the merchant, and gave them utensils to gather up the dead and make a funeral pyre. We burned all the dead and the utensils. Our shugenja cleansed the area as best they could. We camped here overnight and set out on the road the next day.

Three hours out, we came upon a huge “Ogre” using a tree as a club. He was accompanied by 8 “goblin” archers. The male ronin ran up to him with his sword and was batted away like a fly. Soon after this, he “rose” and started fighting on the side of the enemy. The female ronin ran away. It turns out this Ogre is a mechanical figurine being run like a puppet by 2 goblins and a former Crab Shugenja (Kuni witchhunter) who has been corrupted by the shadowlands. Drawings of this figurine by Takata Nagori are attached to this report.

The final tally of this battle, and the information gleaned is as follows: The “Ogre” is being run by the Kuni, with help from a group of local bandits. He approached them and offered to organize them and use make-up and trickery to make them look like goblins. He insisted they kill the 120 villagers of Yasui. He even killed 3 of the bandits when they refused, immolating one of them from the inside out. Also the male ronin that had been travelling with us was their advanced scout. He “rose” from the dead and treacherously attacked our group. Our group killed 4 of the “goblins” and our Crab Shugenja Takata Nagori finished off the Kuni with Tetsubo of Earth. Our Unicorn Bushi, Shinjo Jun, promised the 4 remaining bandits their lives if they showed us the details of the crimes. I decided the correct punishment for the 4 remaining bandits was to make them into Eta, and they buried the others.

We were told that in the next town we would find a merchant by the name of Kofuku, who was acting as the fence for all the stolen goods. I am turning in the 130 koku to the taxation office, as he was withholding the taxes from the Imperium. He is still being charged with aiding bandits and receiving stolen goods. He is being turned into you with this report. All of the items, 15 koku and food the bandits had at their hideout is being turned in as well, and I will keep the receipt for it and the 130 koku. This whole thing is a shocking example of bandit treachery. The samurai in charge of the town where we apprehended Kofuku is now in charge of all his holdings.

The very next day, as we approached the river ford(where there is a ferry pulled by a winch), we were attacked by 3 REAL Ogres. I was ensuring that Kiokuro, the 4 Eta and Kofuku were safe during the battle. Isawa Akiro gave Utako Anamarie a fire shield and she set one of the Ogres on fire. She finished 2 of them off, and Shinjo Jun finished off the other, but all of our group helped defeat them. This is the report of our voyage from Unicorn lands to the city of Waterhammer City.

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